FHWA Proposes Changes to Tunnel Inspection Standards to Reflect MAP-21

AASHTO Journal, 2 August 2013

The Federal Highway Administration this week published a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking this week in the Federal Register, seeking comments on the revised National Tunnel Inspection Standards. The changes stem from the passage of the current transportation bill, MAP-21, and the need to address provisions made in the law.

The notice seeks to create national standards for tunnel inspections consistent with the provisions of MAP-21, which includes requirements for establishing a highway tunnel inspection program, maintaining a tunnel inventory, and reporting to FHWA of inspection results and critical findings (such as any structural or safety-related deficiencies that need immediate follow-up action or inspection). Structures included in these guidelines are any highway tunnels “on public roads, on and off Federal-aid highways, including tribally and federally owned tunnels.”

“Routine and thorough inspections of our nation’s tunnels are necessary to maintain safe tunnel operation and prevent structural, geotechnical, and functional failures,” the notice says. “In addition, data on the condition and operation of our nation’s tunnels is necessary in order for tunnel owners to make informed investment decisions as part of an asset management program for maintenance and repair of their tunnels. Recognizing that the safety and security of our nation’s tunnels are of paramount importance, Congress declared in MAP-21 that it is in the vital interest of the United States to inventory, inspect, and improve the condition of the nation’s highway tunnels.”

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Subcommittee on Bridges and Structures T-20 Tech Committee on Tunnels​ worked directly with FHWA to assist in drafting the ruling. The committee is also in the process of responding to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

All comments on the must be submitted by Sept. 30.

The Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the National Tunnel Inspection Standards is available on the Federal Register here. Comments can be registered here.​​

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