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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Focus > October 2005 > Showcasing the DC Tunnel Management System
October 2005Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-06-019

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Showcasing the DC Tunnel Management System

Representatives from State and local transportation departments, transit and highway tunnel owners, tunnel authorities, consulting firms, academia, and others got an up close look at the first tunnel management system (TMS) designed for nationwide use at a showcase held September 20, 2005, in Washington, DC. The showcase highlighted the District of Columbia's implementation of the TMS over the last 2 years as part of an FHWA pilot project (see May 2005 Focus). "We hope that other tunnel owners will benefit from the District's experiences," said Gary Henderson, then Division Administrator for FHWA's DC Division office.

Released in 2003 and available to highway and transit tunnel owners and operators across the country, the TMS was jointly developed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). It is comprised of two manuals and an accompanying software program. The Highway and Rail Transit Tunnel Inspection Manual (Publication No. FHWA-IF-05-002) and Highway and Rail Transit Tunnel Maintenance and Rehabilitation Manual (Publication No. FHWA-IF-05-017) provide guidelines for inspecting, maintaining, and rehabilitating highway and rail transit tunnels. The accompanying software can be used by highway and transit tunnel owners to collect and manage data on tunnel components.

The District of Columbia has 17 tunnels, with the oldest built in 1938. "Managing these facilities requires good data," said John Deatrick, Chief Engineer and Deputy Director at the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). Under the FHWA pilot project, the TMS was introduced in DC in 2003 to collect data on and help manage the District's tunnels. The tunnels range in size from 32.6 m (107 ft) to about 1,036 m (3,400 ft). Data was also collected on two abandoned trolley tunnels.

The east portal of the Virginia Avenue tunnel over the E Street Expressway.
Cover of Highway and Rail Transit Tunnel Maintenance and Rehabilitation ManualThe east portal of the Barney Circle tunnel.
Cover of Highway and Rail Transit Tunnel Inspection ManualTop: The east portal of the Virginia Avenue tunnel over the E Street Expressway. Bottom: The east portal of the Barney Circle tunnel.

Gannett Fleming, Inc., which originally developed the TMS for FHWA and FTA, worked with DDOT to implement the system in DC. As showcase attendees learned, Gannett Fleming conducted indepth structural inspections of each tunnel, with all observed deficiencies mapped and recorded. Tunnels were divided into 15-m (50-ft) sections for these inspections. Each structural element for every section was evaluated based on a condition rating of 0 to 9, with 0 being a structure that is beyond repair and out of service and 9 representing a new structure. These ratings were entered into the TMS database, along with sketches of each panel, photos, videos of the inspections, and estimates of repair needs.

The TMS is also applicable to longer tunnels, noted Chet Allen of Gannett Fleming. "The tunnel owner decides how long the tunnel sections will be for data collection purposes," said Allen.

The TMS software can be modified to meet individual requirements. For example, modifications were made to meet the information technology standards of DDOT, as well as to include condition evaluations of the mechanical and electrical elements of DC's tunnels. DDOT also decided to use a maintenance management database, which has been linked to the TMS. The maintenance management system can be used to plan and track maintenance and repair costs, as well as to track such items as preventive maintenance procedures and schedules, status of work orders, and warranty information. "It can be used as a decision-making tool," said Martha Averso of Gannett Fleming. DDOT expects to realize both cost savings and safety benefits from using the TMS and related maintenance management system, as they will help the agency avoid major problems and unexpected breakdowns.

With DDOT now making use of the TMS standard practice, "FHWA wants to make the TMS available to other agencies and we're looking for feedback on its use," noted Dave Geiger, Director of FHWA's Office of Asset Management. Future plans for the TMS include upgrading the system to include some of the additional features developed for DDOT, as well as incorporating requests received from other users.

To obtain copies of the TMS manuals and software or for more information on the TMS, contact Thomas Van in FHWA's Office of Asset Management, 202-366-1341 (fax: 202-366-9981; email: thomas.van@fhwa.dot.gov). For more information on the TMS implementation in Washington, DC, contact Mesfin Lakew at DDOT, 202-671-4682 (email: mesfin.lakew@dc.gov).

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Updated: 04/07/2011

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