The much-anticipated Port of Miami Tunnel is now officially open for business. Costing in excess of $1 billion, the tunnel is funded through a public-private partnership where no tolls are charged, a first in the United States. The tunnel also boasts other firsts, such as the largest diameter soft ground tunnel boring machine to complete a project in the United States. Additionally, the Port Tunnel design and operation incorporate layers of best practices culled from tunnels around the world, like the installation of fire prevention boards, security cameras and ventilation system jet fans. However, some of the tunnel system components are specific to the tunnel’s location in South Florida, like hurricane-proofing gates.
After four years of work, the twin tunnels allow traffic traveling to and from the port to bypass the streets of downtown Miami. The tunnel is about 4,200 ft long and 120 ft below the surface at its deepest point. It has two dedicated lanes in each direction, connecting Miami International Airport and Interstate 95 directly to PortMiami.
Before the tunnel, the only way into the port was through Port Boulevard, which caused heavy traffic for cargo trucks and cruise ship passengers. The tunnel will alleviate congestion of the nearly 16,000 vehicles that travel to and from the seaport through downtown streets each weekday.
Designed to meet the visual perception abilities of drivers, effective tunnel lighting systems must address a variety of design concerns, including traffic density and speed, spatial and visual adaptation, contrast between potential obstacles and their background, and glare. Given the complex nature of tunnel lighting, one of the greatest challenges is the ability to support drivers’ visual perceptions – both day and night – from the point of entry to the point of exit.
Along with (374) 100W, 250W and 400W ceiling-mounted high pressure sodium fixtures utilized to supplement the threshold/transition zones, there are also (1,037) 75W linear fluorescent interior zone and passageway lights along the upper sidewalls of the tunnel, most of which remain on during daytime hours. The tunnel lighting control system automatically adjusts the amount of lighting needed, at a given time, based on ambient light levels just outside the tunnel portals. Kenall was selected as the lighting fixture supplier.
“The lighting provided for the Port of Miami Tunnel has met all of the performance requirements of the demanding specification prepared by the project designer and approved by the Florida Department of Transportation,” said Steven Dusseault, P.E. CEI Resident Engineer on behalf of the Florida Department of Transportation for the Port of Miami Tunnel project. “Testing of the systems has shown the excellent lighting performance and is expected to provide years of service to travelers to the Port of Miami.”