PortMiami Tunnel Project Wins Grand Prize in America’s Transportation Awards Competition

Building the POMT The new PortMiami Tunnel has had a lot to celebrate since it opened in August 2014: it is the first bored roadway tunnel ever constructed in South Florida and the state’s first public-private transportation partnership, eliminating the need to charge a toll. The tunnel has exceeded traffic expectations, removing 80 percent of all cargo trucks from the streets of Downtown Miami. The project, which features Kenall LuxTran™ tunnel luminaires, has won both the People’s Choice and the Grand Prize in the 2015 America’s Transportation Awards competition.

The $666 million PortMiami project represents the largest soft ground bored road tunnel in North America. This project worked closely with design and construction teams to build a tunnel in South Florida’s challenging limestone and coralline formations, providing a direct connection between the Port of Miami and the interstate highway system, supporting freight and regional commerce while preparing for increased demand in a post-Panamax era.

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.

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.

RELATED: PortMiami Tunnel Wins Tunnel Achievement Award

The tunnel design incorporates best practices from tunnels around the world, with some specific components added to address the challenges of the tunnel’s location in South Florida (such as hurricane-proofing gates). Its lighting is designed to support the visual perception of drivers by addressing a variety of concerns, including traffic density and speed, spatial and visual adaptation, contrast between potential obstacles and their background, and glare. 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, something for which LuxTran luminaires are specifically designed.

For PortMiami Tunnel, Kenall recommended a combination of LuxTran™LTD2424, ceiling-mounted high pressure sodium fixtures to supplement the threshold/transition zones, and custom-designed 5-ft fixtures with F35T5 lamping for the interior zone and passageway lighting along the upper sidewalls of the tunnel. The tunnel lighting control system automatically adjusts the amount of lighting needed at a given time, based on ambient light levels just outside of the tunnel portals.

“The lighting provided for the PortMiami 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 (FDOT),” said Steven Dusseault, P.E. CEI Resident Engineer on behalf of the FDOT for the PortMiami 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.”

Michael Maltezos, Kenall’s Transportation Sales Manager, said: “We were fortunate to be able to contribute to this challenging project and applaud all the companies involved in the effort. PortMiami Tunnel has been successful in many ways – this is just the latest example.”

The competition, co-sponsored by AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce along with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), was launched to build support for transportation at the federal, state and local levels. The winners are first selected in four regions and then the Top 10 vie for two awards: the Grand Prize and the People’s Choice Award. The awards are submitted in three categories and by project size. The People’s Choice Award is selected by online voting. Both awards carry a $10,000 prize that can be used by the winning state for an education grant in the transportation field, or to support a community project or charity.

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