Miami — The PortMiami Tunnel received the grand prize in the 2015 America’s Transportation Awards competition, sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff served as owner's representative to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for the PortMiami Tunnel project. The firm's responsibilities included project management, civil and structural concept design, final design review, tunnel engineering, cost estimating and scheduling, environmental assessment, and preparation of public-private partnership procurement documents. The company also supported FDOT during the contract negotiation process, and provided construction engineering and inspection services to FDOT under a separate contract.

When it opened in August 2014, the PortMiami Tunnel provided motorists with greatly improved access to Miami’s seaport, the largest and busiest cruise ship terminal in the world. A year after its opening, the project had exceeded traffic expectations, removing more than 80 percent of all cargo trucks from downtown Miami streets.

The 3/4-mile-long twin-bore tunnels and related highway improvements reroute port traffic along Interstate 395 over the MacArthur Causeway Bridge to Watson Island, and then under Biscayne Bay to Dodge Island and the port, creating another entry point in addition to the existing Port Bridge.

Planning and design for the tunnel project began on Oct. 15, 2009, with construction of the tunnel starting in May 2010. The PortMiami Tunnel is the first bored roadway tunnel ever constructed in South Florida’s complex sedimentary geology and the largest-diameter bored soft ground completed tunnel in the U.S.

The project was delivered via a design-build-finance-operate-maintain contract. The tunnel was constructed by the Miami Access Tunnel (MAT) consortium on behalf of FDOT, the City of Miami, and Miami-Dade County. MAT, as concessionaire, will operate and maintain the tunnel for 30 years.

In all, 48 transportation projects from 24 states were nominated in the 8th annual America’s Transportation Awards competition. The program shines a national spotlight on some of the outstanding projects that are making travel safer and better across the country. A panel of judges selected the PortMiami Tunnel project to receive the grand prize.

“It is important to recognize the innovative and resourceful transportation infrastructure projects being done across the country, which are crucial to growing our nation’s economy. The Chamber is proud to highlight the Florida Department of Transportation’s PortMiami Tunnel, an initiative which not only improves the lives of those living and working in the Miami area, but also drives economic growth and development by providing infrastructure that supports commerce,” said Jack Howard, senior vice president of congressional affairs at the U.S. Chamber.