Port of Miami Tunnel project is back on

The $1 billion tunnel expansion project will move forward with the Miami Access Tunnel consortium as preferred bidder. The project stalled five months ago when Babcock & Brown, a member of the consortium, sought to swap its equity stake with Meridiam Infrastructure.

Objections to a consortium awarded the $1 billion Port of Miami Tunnel expansion project have been overcome by Florida State officials after three days of negotiations.

Port of Miami: back on
track for new tunnel

After “intense negotiations”, state and local officials agreed to move ahead with the project with the Miami Access Tunnel (MAT) consortium, which won the deal in February last year, as preferred bidder.

Under the agreement, MAT will have to finalise contract terms with the state by 1 June, 2009 and reach financial close by 1 October, 2009. If either deadline is not met, Florida will rebid the project, albeit on an expedited basis.

Controversy was sparked in December after Babcock & Brown, a key player in MAT, made a formal written request to swap its 90 percent equtiy interest with Paris-based Meridiam Infrastructure Fund. Florida refused to close the deal, saying a Meridiam-backed consortium would not have originally qualified to compete for the contract.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alverez publicly disagreed with Florida Department of Transportation head Stephanie Kopelousos. He argued against Kopelousos’ recommendations to scrap the agreement with MAT and reopen bidding since it would delay job creation and cause the project to lose attractive financing from the federal government.

Alvarez eventually called for a meeting with state and local politicians to settle on a way forward and the agreed to push ahead with MAT, which also includes French construction firm Bouyges Travaux Publics.