Last month we read that the billion-plus dollar Port of Miami tunnel idea concocted by many of our enlightened politicians to “sidetrack” truck traffic from downtown Miami to the Port was dead. Reason for the sudden death was “financial problems encountered by the private consortium that was supposed to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the tunnel over a 35-year period.”
Many of our local politicians whined stating that the tunnel was critical to the port’s long term future. Leading this charge were Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez and City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz. Today The Miami Herald is reporting that “the Crist administration on Wednesday said it was reconsidering the embattled project.”
Fighting to keep the project alive are Alvarez and Diaz, State Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, and State Representatives David Rivera and Juan Carlos Zapata — all South Florida legislators.
“We made it very clear [the tunnel is] important to us,'’ said Senate Majority Leader Alex Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami. “It’s not dead. It’s limping along. But it was not dead. It was dead this morning,” according a report in The Miami Herald, also saying that “State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos told Alvarez and local lawmakers that the state’s share of the tunnel funds — $452 million for construction and $850 million for long-term operations and maintenance — would not be reprogrammed for pet projects in other parts of the state.
“They asked us to take a step back and take another look at it, and we’re going to do that,” Kopelousos told The Herald.
Apparently Kopelousos and Gov. Charlie Crist were facing rising criticism from South Florida leaders — and lobbyists — who believe the tunnel is critical to the port’s long-term future.
Mind you, this is the same tunnel which polls and surveys demonstrate is NOT wanted by a great majority of Miami-Dade residents. At a time of cuts to education, health care, social services and transportation, for example, most Miamians believe the public money that would be used for such a project would be better applied elsewhere.
Apparently some of our local leaders, along with lobbyist friends, don’t care what the people want or don’t want. They keep chasing that billion dollar tunnel along with all the juicy contracts that would go with it.
Alvaro F. Fernandez