BRADENTON, Fla. — Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos said this week that her agency has received the necessary letter of credit from Miami for a portion of its funding for the $1 billion Port of Miami Tunnel project.
FDOT expects the project to reach financial close on Thursday now that a $300 million subordinated loan under the federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act also has been assured.
“I am excited to report that the tunnel project is ready and poised to close,” Kopelousos wrote to Miami and Miami-Dade County officials who are sharing in the cost of the project with the department.
Closing on the financials for the long-awaited project was expected Oct. 1, but was delayed when Miami took longer than expected to forward a $50 million letter of credit to the state.
The delay, which occurred as the federal government’s fiscal year came to close, meant that federal officials had to reaffirm that the TIFIA loan was still available for the project. Miami’s LOC was delivered late last week.
Financial closing of the 35-year concession contract under a public-private partnership will enable a consortium to design, finance, build, and operate two 3,900-foot-long tunnels under the water to provide a secondary route to the Port of Miami.
Trucks and cruise passengers going to and from the port now must travel through downtown Miami often creating severe congestion.
A consortium calling itself MAT Concessionaire LLC will have five years to provide up-front financing to design and build the tunnels, and it will have another 30 years to operate and maintain the tunnels.
MAT’s majority owner is Meridiam Infrastructure Finance SARL, which is expected to use the TIFIA loan as well as up to $980 million of private-activity bonds and funding from as many as 10 banks to finance the construction cost.
FDOT is paying for most of the project from its budget over the years through what is called availability payments.
Miami-Dade County is funding $400 million and Miami is contributing $50 million plus right of way.
Currently, no tolling is anticipated for the use of the tunnels once they are constructed.