Downtown Fort Lauderdale is home to Florida’s oldest underwater vehicular road tunnel. The New River Tunnel now known as the “Henry Kinney Tunnel” opened in 1960 taking US underneath the New River and Las Olas Boulevard. The Tunnel was narrowly approved in a 1956 local referendum by a vote of 7,008 (52.3) to 6,401 (47.7%). The tunnel replaced an old two-lane drawbridge which long was the cause of bottlenecks in the growing city.
In 1986, the tunnel was renamed for Miami Herald Broward Bureau chief (1951-1959) Henry E. Kinney who had worked tirelessly to promote the project and whose editorials and reporting are credited by many with securing the passage of the referendum in 1956.
Tunnels have been explored as projects in Florida since, including a study of a possible tunnel on Brickell Avenue in Miami during the 1960’s, a study for one under Tampa Bay in the 1970’s, discussion in the 1990’s of a second tunnel in Fort Lauderdale this time under the Stranahan River on 17th Street and consistent discussion of tunnels under the Miami River in the 2000’s.
It was not until 2014 and the opening of the PortMiami Tunnel that Florida got a second vehicular underwater tunnel. That tunnel is significantly longer than the one in Fort Lauderdale and serves as a vital transportation cog in traffic to and from the PortMiami facility.
The Kinney Tunnel now carries as many as a 100,000 cars a day under the New River proving that the decision in 1956 to build was a justified one. In that time Broward County’s population swelled from 79,000 in 1950 to close to 2 million today.