FHWA Seeks Comments Before Creating National Standards for Tunnel Inspections
The Federal Highway Administration is asking for comments on before it writes rules on a national tunnel inspection standard, according to a notice set for publication in the Nov. 18 Federal Register.
The new standards for which FHWA is seeking feedback "likely would include requirements for inspection procedures for structural, mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and ventilation systems, and other major elements specific to tunnels such as tunnel finishes; the qualification and training of inspectors; and a National Tunnel Inventory," according to the notice.
FHWA says the new standards are likely to mirror those already in place for bridges, including the creation of a national inventory. Comments are due Feb. 16, 2009.
FHWA and the Federal Transit Administration issued updated tunnel inspection guidelines in 2005, but inspection frequency and methods are not mandated. FHWA has estimated there more than 300 U.S. highway tunnels and over 100 miles of tunnels.
The move comes after the National Transportation Safety Board and the Department of Transportation's inspector general both recommended that tunnels have national inspection standards similar to those for bridges. NTSB said regular inspections might have detected the problems that led to the 2006 fatal collapse of a tunnel ceiling in Boston, Mass. The Big Dig's largest contractor reached a settlement with the state Nov. 14