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Miami Tunnel Moves Forward

A deal to build a pair of tunnels connecting the Port of Miami to the mainland was announced Thursday as Florida transportation officials and local officials finally hammered out a financing deal for the $1 billion project.

Meeting with local officials in Miami, Florida Department of Transportation officials said the financial closing marks the final hurdle for the project, a pair of 3,900-foot tunnels that have been on the planning boards for years. Construction is expected to begin next year and will be completed in 2014.

The agreement calls for the Miami Access Tunnel Consortium, or MAT, to build and operate the tunnels.

Miami-Dade County is funding $400 million and Miami is contributing $50 million plus right of way. The state agency will pick up the rest of the tab, estimated at $457 million.

"The new tunnel will improve access to the Port, free up congested downtown Miami streets and provide thousands of new jobs for Florida's families - this will result in a major enhancement of the quality of life in the region," said Stephanie Kopelousos, state transportation secretary.

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