Much to the relief of Miami officials, the Florida Dept. of Transportation and the Miami Access Tunnel (MAT) consortium have reached agreement on commercial terms for the revived $1-billion Port of Miami Tunnel project.

MAT, led by Paris-based Bouygues Publics Travaux, brought in a new French partner, Meridiam Infrastructure Finance, after its original 90% equity partner, Australia’s Babcock & Brown, bailed out late last year. FDOT approved the switch in early May.

“We signed an agreement to proceed; now they have to find financing,” says Dick Kane, FDOT spokesman. The state has set a deadline of Oct. 1 for financial closure.

Consortium has an Oct. 1 deadline to close the deal.

FDOT has stipulated design and construction costs are not to exceed $610 million. Construction of the two 36-ft-dia, 3,900-ft-long bored tunnels and related infrastructure is to take 55 months. FDOT expects excavation with a 42-ft-dia tunnel-boring machine will take one year; each bore is expected to take six months to complete. Precast tunnel segments will be placed as the TBM progresses. The project also includes roadwork on Dodge and Watson islands and widening of the MacArthur Causeway Bridge.

The consortium will maintain and operate the tunnel for 30 years, receiving annual maximum availability payments of $33,234,692 once it opens to traffic, as long as it adheres to performance standards.

After FDOT announced in December it would not close with MAT on the tunnel deal, local officials rallied to convince FDOT Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos to reconsider plans to reprocure the project, which would further delay construction.