FHWA reveals new federal tunnel inspection program
The final rule of the National Tunnel Inspection Standards (NTIS), which was published on July 14 in the Federal Register, is the foundation for the first standardized tunnel inspection program ever implemented in the U.S. The goal is to develop and maintain a higher quality and consistency in inspecting tunnels throughout the country.
Similar oversight programs have never trickled down to U.S. highway tunnels, but the new program is designed to change that trend. The effort to make roads safer has required the FHWA to make the program a top priority.
Until now, the FHWA has offered only guidance for tunnel inspections. This guidance did not give the FHWA the authority to require owners of the tunnels, like transportation agencies or state transportation departments, to conduct tunnel inspections. Additionally, the inspection methods never had a standardized process.
Under the new program’s standards, the FHWA will create an inventory of tunnels in the U.S. The agency will then create a national database, comparable to the National Bridge Inventory, to help keep tunnel inspectors accountable.