On May 19, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez touted the PortMiami tunnel as the way public-private partnerships are supposed to work. "When the government tries to do a project, it takes a lot of money and time, and this company has done it on budget and on time," he said at the ribbon-cutting.
But the ceremony was just that: ceremony. One month later, the tunnel has yet to open due to a litany of problems, including broken bolts, faulty fans, and leaky pipes.
That's right. Our brand-new $1 billion tunnel is already leaking.
The tunnel's 50-ton metal flood gates don't work against internal leaks.
The problems aren't really dangerous, the Miami Herald reports. Two of the tunnel's 44 huge jet engine ventilation fans were disabled by unexplained vibrations, and the bolts holding them to the sealing also failed. The leak, meanwhile, is from a rainwater pipe.
"We're not talking about the bay flooding the tunnel," Gus Pego, Miami-Dade's senior FDOT official, told the newspaper. "Think of it as the pipe under your sink."
See also: Inside the Port of Miami Tunnel (Photos)
Nor is the delay costing taxpayers. Instead, under its contract with the county, Parisian contractor Bouygues is out more than $3 million in fines -- a total that grows by $115,000 a day.
But the delays are an embarrassment, and they threaten to shake public confidence in the massive infrastructure project.
"The whole project team is disappointed," Pego said. "The contract called for it to be done May 19, and we were fully expecting to open it then."
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Bouygues will deliver a progress report to state and local transportation officials later today, but the tunnel isn't expected to open until July at the earliest.