Bridges, Tunnels and other Transportation Structures
Full Session with Abstracts
In the summer of 2015, The Federal Highway Administration came out with a ruling to establish the National Tunnel Inspection Standards (NTIS) for highway tunnels. The NTIS requires tunnel owners to establish an inspection program, maintain tunnel inventory, report and correct any critical findings found during these inspections. Critical findings were defined as those of any structural or safety-related deficiencies that pose an immediate safety hazard on motorists. The program requires tunnel owners to perform routine inspections to all components of their tunnel facilities and rate them once every two years. Due to the nature of inspecting such big and complex structures with all of their different system components, such routine inspections are time-consuming and costly. They require the formation of highly skilled multi-disciplinary inspection teams. For the initial NTIS inspections, it took months for the inspection crews to fully understand the configuration of each of the tunnels with their many systems, determine the necessary operations needed at the time of the inspection, perform the inspection, and produce comprehensive inspection reports. For those reasons, tunnel owners have partnered with consultants to design inspection programs with life-cycle considerations to alleviate this financial burden and better maintain their facilities beyond just addressing critical findings. This presentation will examine the initial inspection cycle for several of the tunnels in Virginia. We will share experiences and lessons learned for how we utilized our inspections as an opportunity to address reoccurring issues, perform cost-analysis studies and develop business plans for the owner. Special methods and techniques were implemented in order to optimize those inspections such as reviewing preventative maintenance records, teaming-up with tunnel maintenance staff for some of their periodically scheduled maintenance for their mechanical and electrical equipment and coordinating with them for any additional needed testing for our inspection.