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Roadway Tunnel Design: The Best Practices

Designing and building tunnels for public roadways is a challenging project. There are government regulations and guidelines to follow but when it comes right down to It, each roadway goes through unique landscapes with its own sets of challenges and expectations. Tunnels connect different parts of roadways helping traffic flow smoothly through a challenging landscape. A roadway tunnel must get traffic from point A to point B safely and without the drivers feeling claustrophobic.

How Can Road Construction Crews Build Tunnels Faster?

Road construction contractors can use special tunnel formwork systems to make building tunnels more of an exact science. Tunnel Formwork System is economical, fast, and safe. The form system works for the most complicated tunnel systems. The formwork manufacturer works with the road contractor from planning to project management, to the construction and completion of the tunnel project.

The formwork system is innovative and can be used on foundations of many types. It uses a forming wagon with large platforms to allow enough room to work building the tunnel. This product is designed for the safety of construction and ensures that the forming wagon stays firmly on the rails even during lateral shifting. The forming wagon can be lifted, lowered, moved, and adjusted with precision as work on the tunnel progresses.

It is up to the road design engineer, the road construction contractor, and the construction engineer to design the best possible tunnel and to use the best practices in building it. The tunnel project will go through stages of planning, design, construction, maintenance, inspection, and operations codes. By using the latest information and construction practices available, the tunnel construction contractor follows best practices.

What Are the Best Practices in Tunnel Construction?

Because of catastrophic tunnel collapses in the past, the United States Government has come up with best practices to be followed in tunnel construction. The National Transportation Safety Board or NTSB recommended that the FHWA or U.S. Federal Highway Administration seek legislation to establish a mandatory inspection program for tunnels and set National Tunnel Inspection Standards.

In developing standards, the many state DOTs or departments of transportation were consulted and tunnels were studied that were part of the state, regional, and local highway systems. These state project construction standards, maintenance and inspection practices, operations, safety and emergency response practices, and specialized tunnel technologies were studied.

The topics studied included: ·

  • Current states criteria used to identify tunnels in their inventory
  • Guidance, standards, and best practices for existing and new roadway tunnels in the U.S.
  • Emergency response capability including fire suppression, incident direction, and traffic management, and tunnel repair strategies for damaged existing tunnels
  • Specific technologies presently used for existing and new roadway tunnel design, tunnel construction, maintenance of tunnels, inspection, and operations for tunnels.

From these scans or studies, a nationwide set of standards, guidance, and best practices for the construction of roadway tunnels was developed. These national guidelines and regulations are available to all tunnel designers and contractors. They allow sharing of existing technical knowledge and provide for education and training in tunnel design and construction.

The guidance publication is called” Best Practices For Roadway Tunnel Design, Construction, Maintenance, Inspection, and Operations(2011). This publication should be owned by every highway design engineer, road and tunnel construction contractor, and the government entity that will own and maintain the new construction project when it is finished.

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