The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is proposing a national uniform standard for federal tunnel inspections to enhance driver safety.
“Safety is our highest priority,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood. “Establishing national standards will help us maintain a high level of safety and uniformity across the country in the inspection of tunnels.”
FHWA currently provides inspection guidance but does not require tunnel owners, such as the state departments of transportation or local authorities, to inspect tunnels. Inspection methods among the estimated 350 highway tunnels in the country also vary significantly.
The proposed National Tunnel Inspection Standards (NTIS) will be modeled after the National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS). The tunnel standards would include similar requirements for the inspection of structural and functional systems along with a national inventory of tunnels.
The fatal suspended ceiling collapse in the Central Artery Tunnel in Boston in July 2006 prompted the development of the National Tunnel Inspection Standards. The event brought national attention to the need for mandated and uniform tunnel inspection codes.
“The safety and security of our nation’s tunnels are of paramount importance,” FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez said. “Our goal is to help ensure that every inch of highway infrastructure is reliable and can support the needs of the traveling public.”