In accordance with the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act of 2012, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) established a national highway tunnel safety program, and in 2015, issued standards for tunnel inventory and inspection. According to FHWA, the standards aim to ensure that tunnel inspections uncover safety problems and prevent failures. In 2018, however, a section of electrical conduit fell from the ceiling of a tunnel in Pennsylvania, hit a truck’s windshield, and killed the vehicle’s driver. In August 2020, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported that long-term corrosion caused the electrical conduit’s support system to fail. NTSB also found that due to insufficient guidance from FHWA on tunnel maintenance and inspection, the tunnel’s owner did not sufficiently prioritize repairs.
Given the importance of FHWA’s role in the oversight of tunnel safety, we are initiating this audit to assess the Agency’s progress in implementing its tunnel safety program. Specifically, we will focus on FHWA’s actions to maintain the national tunnel inventory, conduct program compliance reviews, and address critical risks to tunnel safety.