[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 134 (Tuesday, July 14, 2015)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 41350-41373]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-16896]



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Vol. 80

Tuesday,

No. 134

July 14, 2015

Part V





Department of Transportation





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 Federal Highway Administration





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23 CFR Part 650





National Tunnel Inspection Standards; Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 80 , No. 134 / Tuesday, July 14, 2015 / Rules 
and Regulations

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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration

23 CFR Part 650

[Docket No. FHWA-2008-0038]
RIN 2125-AF24


National Tunnel Inspection Standards

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Department of 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This final rule establishes the National Tunnel Inspection 
Standards (NTIS) for highway tunnels. The NTIS require tunnel owners to 
establish a program for the inspection of highway tunnels, to maintain 
a tunnel inventory, to report the inspection findings to FHWA, and to 
correct any critical findings found during these inspections.

DATES: This final rule is effective August 13, 2015. The incorporation 
by reference of certain publications listed in the rule is approved by 
the Director of the Federal Register as of August 13, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Joseph Hartmann, Office of Bridges 
and Structures, 202-366-4599; or Mr. Robert Black, Office of the Chief 
Counsel, 202-366-1359, Federal Highway Administration, 1200 New Jersey 
Ave. SE., Washington, DC 20590. Office hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 
p.m., eastern time, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Summary

I. Purpose of the Regulatory Action

    The purpose of this final rule is to establish the NTIS for tunnel 
inspections consistent with the provisions of the Moving Ahead for 
Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which includes requirements 
for establishing a highway tunnel inspection program, maintaining a 
tunnel inventory, and reporting to FHWA of inspection results and, in 
particular, critical findings, which are any structural or safety-
related deficiencies that require immediate follow-up inspection or 
action. The NTIS apply to all structures defined as highway tunnels on 
all public roads, on and off Federal-aid highways, including tribally 
and federally owned tunnels.
    Routine and thorough inspections of our Nation's tunnels are 
necessary to maintain safe operation and prevent structural, 
geotechnical, and functional failures. Data on the condition and 
operation of our Nation's tunnels is necessary in order for tunnel 
owners to make informed investment decisions as part of an asset 
management program for maintenance and repair of their tunnels. 
Recognizing that the safety and security of our Nation's tunnels are of 
paramount importance, Congress declared in MAP-21 that it is in the 
vital interest of the U.S. to inventory, inspect, and improve the 
condition of the Nation's highway tunnels. As a result of this 
declaration and the MAP-21 mandate found in 23 U.S.C. 144, FHWA 
establishes the NTIS.

II. Summary of the Major Provisions of the Regulatory Action in 
Question

    The NTIS require the establishment of a National Tunnel Inventory 
(NTI); routine inspections of tunnels on all public roads, on and off 
Federal-aid highways, including tribally and federally owned tunnels; 
written reports to FHWA of critical findings, as defined in 23 CFR 
650.305; training for tunnel inspectors; a national certification 
program for tunnel inspectors; and the timely correction of any 
deficiencies.
    Section 650.503 establishes the applicability of the NTIS to all 
highway tunnels on all public roads as authorized by MAP-21.
    Section 650.507 describes the organizational responsibilities 
associated with successful implementation of the NTIS. Tunnel 
inspection organizations are required to develop and maintain 
inspection policies and procedures, ensure that inspections are 
conducted in accordance with the proposed standards, collect and 
maintain inspection data, and maintain a registry of nationally 
certified tunnel inspection staff.
    Section 650.509 establishes certain minimum qualifications for 
tunnel inspection personnel. A Program Manager shall be a registered 
Professional Engineer (P.E.) or have 10 years of tunnel or bridge 
inspection experience, and be a nationally certified tunnel inspector. 
The Team Leader shall be a nationally certified tunnel inspector and 
either be a registered P.E. with 6 months of tunnel or bridge 
inspection experience, or have 5 years of tunnel or bridge inspection 
experience or an appropriate combination of education and experience as 
detailed in the referenced section. This section also describes the 
requirements for national certification of inspection staff.
    Section 650.511 establishes a minimum inspection frequency of 24 
months for routine tunnel inspections. An owner is permitted to 
increase the frequency of inspection based on a risk analysis approach 
that considers such factors as tunnel age, traffic characteristics, 
geotechnical conditions, and known deficiencies. An owner does not need 
FHWA approval to increase the frequency of inspection. An owner is 
permitted to decrease the frequency of inspection after a written 
request that considers tunnel age, time from last major rehabilitation, 
tunnel complexity, traffic characteristics, geotechnical conditions, 
functional systems, and known deficiencies has been reviewed and 
commented on by FHWA.
    Section 650.513 requires the establishment of a statewide, Federal 
agencywide, or tribal governmentwide procedure to ensure that critical 
findings, as defined in 23 CFR 650.305, are addressed in a timely 
manner. Owners are required to notify FHWA within 24 hours of 
identifying a critical finding and the actions taken to resolve or 
monitor that finding. This section also discusses inspection procedures 
for complex tunnels and functional systems, load rating of tunnels, 
quality assurance, and quality control.
    Section 650.515 requires certain inventory data to be collected and 
reported for all tunnels subject to the NTIS within 120 days of the 
effective date of this rule. This data will be used to create a 
national inventory of tunnels that will provide a more accurate 
assessment of the number and condition of the Nation's tunnels.

III. Costs and Benefits

    The FHWA anticipates that the benefits associated with this 
rulemaking will significantly outweigh the costs. The FHWA has only 
limited data regarding the number of highway tunnels in the Nation and 
the frequency and cost of their inspection. The FHWA received some data 
from a 2003 informal survey of tunnel owners.\1\ Throughout this 
rulemaking, FHWA relied on the data received from that survey to 
develop estimates of the costs and benefits of this final rule. The 
FHWA expects that there may be some tunnels that could be covered by 
the expanded scope of this rulemaking that were not included in the 
survey's limited data set; however, we believe that those tunnels would 
be only a small fraction of the total cost and that the 2003 survey 
data provides a sufficient basis for FHWA's analysis.
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    \1\ See Background section II.D. for more information.
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    The FHWA expects that the overall increase in tunnel inspection 
costs across the Nation will be modest, as the vast majority of tunnel 
owners already inspect at the 24-month interval required by the NTIS. 
The FHWA does

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not have any information regarding the cost of fixing critical findings 
that are uncovered as a result of provisions in this rulemaking. Based 
on current data, only two tunnel owners, that together own 15 tunnels 
(bores), would be required to increase their current inspection 
frequency as a result of this final rule. The FHWA is taking this 
action because ensuring timely inspections of highway tunnels not only 
enhances the safe passage of the traveling public, but also protects 
investments in key infrastructure, as early detection of problems in 
tunnels will likely increase their longevity and lead to lower repair 
costs than problems found later. Inspections are vital to preventing 
tunnel collapses and closures, which often result in millions of 
dollars in repair and user fee costs.

Electronic Access and Filing

    This document, the 2008 advance notice of proposed rulemaking 
(ANPRM), the 2010 notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), the 2013 
supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM), and all comments 
received may be viewed online through the Federal eRulemaking portal at 
http://www.regulations.gov. The Web site is available 24 hours each 
day, 365 days each year. An electronic copy of this document may also 
be downloaded by accessing the Office of the Federal Register's home 
page at: https://www.federalregister.gov.

Background

I. Need for Tunnel Inspection Standards

    The majority of road tunnels in the United States were constructed 
during two distinct periods of highway system expansion. A significant 
number of these tunnels were constructed in the 1930s and 1940s as part 
of public works programs associated with recovery from the Great 
Depression. Another significant number were constructed for the 
developing Interstate Highway System in the 1950s and 1960s. As a 
result, most of these structures have exceeded their designed service 
lives and need to be routinely inspected to ensure continued safe and 
efficient operation.
    The structural, geotechnical, and functional components and systems 
that make up tunnels deteriorate and corrode due to the harsh 
environment in which these structures are operated. As a result, 
routine and thorough inspection of these elements is necessary to 
collect the data needed to maintain safe tunnel operation and to 
prevent structural, geotechnical, and functional failures. As our 
Nation's tunnels continue to age, an accurate and thorough assessment 
of each tunnel's condition is critical to avoid a decline in service 
and maintain a safe, functional, and reliable highway system.
    In addition to ensuring safety, it is also necessary to collect 
data on the condition and operation of our Nation's tunnels for owners 
to make informed investment decisions as part of a systematic, 
integrated approach to transportation asset management. Without such an 
approach, ensuring an accountable and sustainable practice of 
maintenance, preservation, rehabilitation, or replacement across an 
inventory of tunnels is a significant challenge. Data-driven asset 
management provides tunnel owners with a proven framework for long-term 
accountability and accomplishment.\2\ The data collected must be robust 
enough to support investment decisions within a State and consistent 
enough to identify national trends in performance and link Federal 
transportation expenditures to programmatic results.
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    \2\ On February 20, 2015 at 80 FR 9231, FHWA issued an NPRM to 
implement the MAP-21 Asset Management provisions (23 U.S.C. 119(e)). 
Please see that NPRM for more information on the establishment of 
State asset management plans.
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    Timely and reliable tunnel inspection is vital to uncovering safety 
problems and preventing failures. When corrosion or leakage occurs, 
electrical or mechanical systems malfunction, or concrete cracking and 
spalling signs appear, they may be symptomatic of larger problems. The 
importance of tunnel inspection was demonstrated in the summer of 2007 
in the I-70 Hanging Lake tunnel in Colorado when a ceiling and roof 
inspection uncovered a crack in the roof that compromised the 
structural integrity of the tunnel. This discovery prompted the closure 
of the tunnel for several months for needed repairs. The repairs 
prevented a potential catastrophic tunnel failure and loss of life. 
That failure could have resulted in a longer period of repairs, 
injuries, and death.
    Unfortunately, loss of life was not avoided in Oregon in 1999. In 
January of that year, a portion of the lining of the Sunset Tunnel 
located near Manning (west of Portland) collapsed, killing an Oregon 
DOT employee. At the time of the collapse, the lining was being 
inspected after a heavy rain to ensure its safety in response to a 
report by a concerned traveler. The extent of deterioration in the 
lining had not been identified and regularly documented in previous 
inspections of the tunnel, which occurred variably. As a result, the 
lining had deteriorated to the point that the safety inspection after 
the rain event was sufficient to trigger the collapse. Following the 
accident, Oregon DOT reviewed their tunnel inspection program and 
identified a need to define what a tunnel is and establish criteria, 
procedures, and professional qualifications for tunnel inspection.
    Inadequate tunnel inspection was again linked to a loss of life in 
Massachusetts in 2006. In July of that year, a portion of the suspended 
ceiling collapsed onto the roadway in the I-90 Central Artery Tunnel in 
Boston, killing a motorist. It also resulted in closure of this portion 
of the tunnel for 6 months while repairs were made, causing significant 
traffic delays and productivity losses. The National Transportation 
Safety Board (NTSB) stated in its accident investigation report that, 
``had the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, at regular intervals 
between November 2003 and July 2006, inspected the area above the 
suspended ceilings in the D Street portal tunnels, the anchor creep 
that led to this accident would likely have been detected, and action 
could have been taken that would have prevented this accident.'' \3\ 
Among its recommendations, NTSB suggested that FHWA seek legislative 
authority to establish a mandatory tunnel inspection program similar to 
the National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) that would identify 
critical inspection elements and specify an appropriate inspection 
frequency. Additionally, the DOT Inspector General (IG), in testimony 
before Congress in October 2007, highlighted the need for a tunnel 
inspection and reporting system to ensure the safety of the Nation's 
tunnels, stating that FHWA ``should develop and implement a system to 
ensure that States inspect and report on tunnel conditions.'' The IG 
went on to state that FHWA should establish rigorous inspection 
standards.\4\
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    \3\ ``Ceiling Collapse in the Interstate 90 Connector Tunnel 
Boston, Massachusetts July 10, 2006,'' Highway Accident Report, 
NTSB/HAR-07/02, July 10, 2006. An electronic format version is 
available at: http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/reports/2007/HAR0702.pdf.
    \4\ The U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the 
Inspector General, ``Challenges Facing the U.S. Department of 
Transportation, Fiscal Year 2008,'' October 2007, CC-2008-007. An 
electronic format version is available at: http://www.oig.dot.gov/sites/dot/files/pdfdocs/Statement6_DOTAcitivies101507_508version.pdf.
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    More recently, inspection of ceiling panels in the westbound I-264 
Downtown Tunnel in Portsmouth, Virginia, prevented a catastrophic 
failure. The Virginia DOT routinely performs an in-depth inspection of 
this tunnel at approximate intervals of 5 to 7 years. During an 
inspection in 2009,

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Virginia DOT personnel found aggressive corrosion of embedded bolts 
used to support the ceiling panels over the roadway. Upon further 
evaluation, it was determined that the ceiling panels needed to be 
removed to ensure the safety of the traveling public. The tunnel was 
closed for 6 consecutive weekends to perform this maintenance activity. 
If there had not been a timely inspection, the corrosion would have 
worsened and there would likely have been a collapse that could have 
caused death, injuries, or property damage, and complete closure of the 
tunnel for an extended period of time, resulting in significant 
productivity losses.
    Most recently, on December 2, 2012, the suspended ceiling in 
Japan's Sasago Tunnel collapsed onto the roadway below and crushed 
several cars, resulting in the deaths of nine motorists. Early reports 
in the media citing Japanese officials indicated that the collapse was 
likely the result of the failure of the anchor bolts connecting the 
suspended ceiling to the tunnel roof. According to the Central Japan 
Expressway Company, which is responsible for the operation of the 
tunnel, those connections had not been thoroughly inspected due to 
issues with access.\5\
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    \5\ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/12/japan-orders-immediate-inspections-after-deadly-tunnel-collapse/.
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    The FHWA estimates that tunnels represent nearly 100 miles--
approximately 517,000 linear feet--of Interstates, State routes, and 
local routes. Tunnels such as the Central Artery Tunnel in 
Massachusetts, the Lincoln Tunnel in New York, and the Fort McHenry and 
the Baltimore Harbor Tunnels in Maryland are a vital part of the 
national transportation infrastructure. These tunnels accommodate huge 
volumes of daily traffic, contributing to the Nation's mobility. For 
example, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 
the Lincoln Tunnel carries approximately 120,000 vehicles per day, 
making it the busiest vehicular tunnel in the world. The Fort McHenry 
Tunnel handles a daily traffic volume of more than 115,000 vehicles. 
Any disruption of traffic in these or other highly traveled tunnels 
would result in a significant loss of productivity and have severe 
financial impacts on a large region of the country.
    On October 29, 2012, flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy led to the 
closure of many of the vehicular, transit, and rail tunnels in the New 
York City metropolitan area. Although it is difficult to quantify the 
total economic impact of these tunnel closures, Amtrak reported an 
operational loss of approximately $60 million due to the closures of 
four of its tunnels in the region.\6\ These closings, although the 
result of an extreme event and not a structural or functional safety 
issue, demonstrate the value of the continued operation of tunnels. 
Because of their importance to local, regional, and national economies 
and to our national defense, it is imperative that tunnels are properly 
inspected to ensure the continued safe passage of the traveling public 
and commercial goods and services.
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    \6\ http://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/920/456/Amtrak-Requests-.pdf.
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    Of particular concern is the possibility of a fire emergency in one 
of our Nation's tunnels. Numerous domestic and international incidents 
demonstrate that tunnel fires often result in a large number of 
fatalities. In April 1982, seven people lost their lives in the 
Caldecott tunnel, which carries State Route 24 between Oakland and 
Orinda, California, when a truck carrying flammable liquid crashed and 
subsequently collided with other vehicles. In October 2001, 11 people 
were killed when a fire erupted in the Gotthard tunnel in Switzerland 
following a head-on collision. In 2000, 162 people were killed when a 
fire started in the Kaprun train tunnel in Austria. In 1999, 39 people 
died when a truck caught fire in the Mont Blanc tunnel on the French-
Italian border. Tests of 26 tunnels in 13 European countries in 2010 by 
the European Tunnel Assessment Programme indicated a number of 
inadequacies related to fire safety, including missing hydrants, no 
barriers to close the tunnel, inadequate lighting, and insufficient 
escape route signs.\7\ National inspection standards are needed to 
ensure lights, signs, barriers, and tunnel walls are inspected and fire 
suppression systems are maintained in safe and operable condition. Such 
safety features are of critical importance in the event of a fire 
emergency.
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    \7\ http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/new-tunnel-rules-to-be-introduced-after-high-death-toll-7566220.html.
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    Timely inspections of highway tunnels not only enhance the safe 
passage of the traveling public, they also contribute to the efficient 
movement of goods and people and to millions of dollars in fuel 
savings. For example, the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnels, located 
west of Denver on I-70, facilitate the movement of people and goods 
from the eastern slope to the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. The 
Colorado DOT estimates that the public saves 9.1 miles by traveling 
through these tunnels instead of over U.S. Highway 6, Loveland Pass. In 
2000, approximately 28,000 vehicles traveled through the tunnels per 
day, which is equal to 10.3 million vehicles per year.\8\ Accordingly, 
FHWA estimates that by traveling through the Eisenhower/Johnson 
Memorial Tunnels, the public saved approximately 90.7 million miles of 
travel and millions of dollars in associated fuel costs in 2000. These 
tunnels help to expedite the transport of goods and people, prevent 
congestion along alternative routes, and save users money and fuel. If 
these tunnels were closed due to a collapse or other safety hazard, the 
economic effects would be considerable.
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    \8\ See http://www.coloradodot.info/travel/eisenhower-tunnel/eisenhower-tunnel-interesting-facts.html.
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    While the above examples do not constitute a comprehensive list of 
issues resulting from lack of inspections, they do demonstrate why 
routine and thorough tunnel inspection is vital to uncovering safety 
problems and preventing catastrophic failure of key tunnel components.

II. Research Related to Tunnel Inspections

    In addition to the focus Congress has given to tunnel inspection, 
the NTSB, State DOTs, the IG, FHWA, and others have conducted extensive 
research related to tunnel design, construction, rehabilitation, and 
inspection. The following partial list of those activities and projects 
related to tunnel safety all underscore the need to develop consistent 
and reliable inspection standards.
    A. Underground Transportation Systems in Europe: Safety, 
Operations, and Emergency Response.\9\ In 2005, FHWA, the American 
Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and 
the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), sponsored a 
study of equipment, systems, and procedures used in the operation and 
management of tunnels in 9 European countries (Austria, Denmark, 
France, Germany, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, and 
Switzerland). One objective of this scan was to identify best 
practices, specialized technologies, and standards used in monitoring 
and inspecting the structural elements and operating

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equipment of roadway tunnels to ensure optimal performance and minimize 
downtime for maintenance or rehabilitation. As a result of the study, 
the international team recommended that the United States implement a 
risk-management approach to tunnel inspection and maintenance. In 
regard to current practices, the report states that ``only limited 
national guidelines, standards, or specifications are available for 
tunnel design, construction, safety inspection, traffic and incident 
management, maintenance, security, and protection against natural or 
manmade disasters.'' The report also notes that only ``through 
knowledge of the systems and the structure gained from intelligent 
monitoring and analysis of the collected data, the owner can use a 
risk-based approach to schedule the time and frequency of inspections 
and establish priorities.''
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    \9\ Federal Highway Administration, ``Underground Transportation 
Systems in Europe: Safety, Operations, and Emergency Response,'' 
Office of International Programs, FHWA-PL-06-016, June 2006. An 
electronic format version is available at: http://international.fhwa.dot.gov/uts/uts.pdf.
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    B. NCHRP Project 20-07/Task 261, Best Practices for Implementing 
Quality Control and Quality Assurance for Tunnel Inspection.\10\ In 
response to NTSB's preliminary safety recommendations resulting from 
the I-90 Central Artery Tunnel partial ceiling collapse investigation 
in Boston, FHWA and AASHTO initiated this NCHRP research project. The 
objective of the project was to develop guidelines for owners to 
implement quality control and quality assurance practices for tunnel 
inspection, operational safety and emergency response systems testing, 
and inventory procedures to improve the safety of highway tunnels. 
During the course of the project, the researchers found that tunnel 
owners in the United States inspect their structures at variable 
intervals ranging from 1 week to 6 years. The report states that 
``[s]ince there is currently no consistency in the tunnel inspection 
techniques used by the various tunnel owners, implementing NTIS and 
developing a tunnel inspector training program on applying those 
standards will be vital to ensuring a consistent tunnel inspection 
program for all tunnels across the nation.''
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    \10\ National Cooperative Highway Research Program, ``Best 
Practices for Implementing Quality Control and Quality Assurance for 
Tunnel Inspection,'' Prepared for the AASHTO Technical Committee for 
Tunnels (T-20), NCHRP Project 20-07, Task 261 Final Report, October 
2009. An electronic format version is available at: http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP20-07(261)_FR.pdf.
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    C. Best Practices for Roadway Tunnel Design, Construction, 
Maintenance, Inspection, and Operations.\11\ This domestic scanning 
tour was conducted during August and September 2009, and done in 
partnership with FHWA, AASHTO, and NCHRP to determine if a need existed 
for national tunnel inspection standards and an NTI. The scan focused 
on the inventory criteria used by highway tunnel owners; highway tunnel 
design and construction standards used by State DOTs and other tunnel 
owners; maintenance and inspection practices; operations, including 
safety, as related to emergency response capability; and specialized 
tunnel technologies. The scan team found that the most effective tunnel 
inspection programs were developed from similar bridge inspection 
programs. It was determined that tunnel owners often use bridge 
inspectors to inspect their tunnels because bridges and tunnels are 
designed and constructed with similar materials and methods, exposed to 
similar environments, and can be reliably inspected with similar 
technologies. As a result, the scan team recommended that the 
development of a tunnel inspection program be as similar as possible to 
the current bridge inspection program to further capitalize on the 
success of the standards for bridge inspection established through the 
NBIS.
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    \11\ National Cooperative Highway Research Program, ``Best 
Practices for Roadway Tunnel Design, Construction, Maintenance, 
Inspection, and Operations,'' Prepared for the AASHTO Technical 
Committee for Tunnels (T-20), NCHRP Project 20-68A Scan 09-05 Final 
Report, April 2011. An electronic format version is available at: 
http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP20-68A_09-05.pdf.
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    D. 2003 Informal FHWA Survey. In 2003, FHWA conducted an informal 
survey to collect information about the tunnel inventory, maintenance 
practices, inspection practices, and tunnel management practices of 
each State. Of the 45 highway tunnel owners surveyed, 40 responses were 
received. The survey results suggest that there are approximately 350 
highway tunnels (bores) in the Nation and they are currently inspected 
by their owners at intervals ranging from 1 day to 10 years.\12\ The 
average inspection interval for the 37 responses that included data on 
this measure was a little over 24 months (2.05 years).
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    \12\ The definition of a highway tunnel used in the 2003 survey 
pertained to a single ``bore'' or constructed shape, but did not 
pertain to a given tunnel name (i.e. a tunnel such as the Holland 
tunnel in New York actually consists of two tunnels, one in each 
direction).
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    E. Highway and Rail Transit Tunnel Inspection Manual (HRTTIM). 
Recognizing that tunnel owners are not required to inspect tunnels 
routinely and inspection methods vary among entities that inspect 
tunnels, FHWA and the Federal Transit Administration developed the 
HRTTIM for the inspection of tunnels in 2003. These guidelines, updated 
in 2005,\13\ outline recommended procedures and practices for the 
inspection, documentation, and priority classification of deficiencies 
for various elements that comprise a tunnel.
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    \13\ The Federal Highway Administration/Federal Transit 
Administration ``Highway and Rail Transit Tunnel Inspection 
Manual,'' 2005 edition, is available in electronic format at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/tunnel/management/.
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III. NTIS

    Recognizing that the safety and security of our Nation's tunnels 
are of paramount importance and pursuant to the legislative mandate in 
MAP-21, FHWA developed the NTIS. The FHWA modeled the NTIS after the 
existing NBIS, located at 23 CFR part 650, subpart C. The more than 40-
year history of the NBIS has enabled the States to identify and manage 
deterioration and the emergence of previously unknown problems in their 
bridge inventory; evaluate those structures properly; and make the 
repairs needed to mitigate the escalating cost of repairing or 
replacing older bridges. Similar needs and concerns exist for the 
owners of aging highway tunnels. The NBIS provided a starting point for 
designing a national tunnel inspection program. The FHWA has therefore 
modeled the NTIS after the NBIS, and will make appropriate changes in 
the NTIS as it gains more experience with tunnel inspections and safety 
problems. The NTIS will be added under subpart E of 23 CFR part 650--
Bridges, Structures, and Hydraulics.
    The NTIS require the proper safety inspection and evaluation of all 
tunnels. The NTIS are needed to ensure that all structural, mechanical, 
electrical, hydraulic, and ventilation systems and other major elements 
of our Nation's tunnels are inspected and tested on a regular basis. 
The NTIS will also enhance the safety of our Nation's highway tunnels 
by making tunnel inspections consistent across the Nation.
    The NTIS will create a national inventory of tunnels that will 
result in a more accurate assessment and provide the public with a more 
transparent view of the number and condition of the Nation's tunnels. 
Tunnel information will be made available to the public in the same way 
as bridge data contained in the National Bridge Inventory (NBI). The 
tunnel inventory data will also be available in the annual report to 
Congress required by MAP-21. The tunnel inventory data will allow FHWA 
to track and identify any patterns of tunnel deficiencies and 
facilitate repairs

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by States to ensure the safety of the public. Tunnel owners will also 
be able to integrate tunnel inventory data into an asset management 
program for maintenance and repairs of their tunnels. The data 
collection requirements in the NTIS are consistent with the 
performance-based approach to carrying out the Federal-aid highway 
program established by Congress in MAP-21. These requirements will 
fulfill the congressional directive to establish a data-driven, risk-
based approach for the maintenance, replacement, and rehabilitation of 
highway tunnels. Such an approach will help to ensure the efficient and 
effective use of Federal resources.
    The NTIS will ensure that tunnels are inspected by qualified 
personnel by creating a certification program for tunnel inspectors and 
a comprehensive training course.

IV. Summary of Significant Changes Made in the Final Rule

    The final rule was revised in response to comments received on the 
SNPRM (78 FR 46118). The following paragraphs summarize the most 
significant of those changes. Editorial or slight changes in language 
for consistency are not addressed in this section.
    In Sec.  650.505, a definition for end-of-course assessment was 
added. This definition was needed to clarify the qualification 
requirements for Program Managers and Team Leaders in Sec.  650.509.
    Section 650.507 was retitled Tunnel Inspection Organization 
Responsibilities. Since the provisions of this section deal primarily 
with the responsibilities of a tunnel inspection organization rather 
than the structure and mechanisms of that organization, the title was 
amended to better reflect the content.
    Language was added to Sec.  650.507(e)(2) to explicitly state that 
the Tunnel Inspection Organization is responsible for managing critical 
findings. The MAP-21 assigns this responsibility and the language in 
this section was added to emphasize that requirement (23 U.S.C. 
144(h)(2)(D) and 144(h)(3)(B)).
    Section 650.507(e)(4) was added to respond to comments received on 
Sec.  650.509 Qualifications of Personnel. This new paragraph was added 
to ensure that adequately qualified personnel inspect complex tunnels 
or tunnels with distinctive features or functions.
    In Sec.  650.509, the qualifications for Program Manager and Team 
Leader have been significantly altered in response to comments received 
on the SNPRM. The majority of the commenters requested relief from the 
requirement that Program Managers and Team Leaders must have a P.E. 
license in addition to experience and training requirements. With only 
minor differences, the general qualifications for Program Managers and 
Team Leaders now closely mirror those for the same positions under the 
NBIS. Under the final rule, a P.E. license is only required for Team 
Leaders if an FHWA-approved process determines that the qualification 
is necessary to adequately and appropriately inspect a tunnel that is 
complex or has distinctive features or functions. The FHWA eliminated 
the training and national certification requirements for inspectors 
other than Program Managers and Team Leaders. Instead, the appropriate 
training for those inspectors is left to the discretion of the 
responsible States, Federal agencies, and tribal governments.
    In Sec.  650.511, the format of the Inspection Date was altered in 
response to comments. Some owners believe that the four-digit year 
should be captured in the NTI records. The FHWA concurs and the 
required format is now MM/DD/YYYY.
    In Sec.  650.513, in response to several comments, the requirement 
to conduct a load rating within 1 month of the completion of an 
inspection was extended to 3 months, and the requirement to post a 
tunnel within 48 hours of the determination of need was extended to 30 
days. If an inspection determined that deterioration had significantly 
changed the capacity of an element, it is expected that a load rating 
would be conducted earlier than 3 months in order to ensure the safety 
of the tunnel. Likewise, if an inspection determined that the posting 
load was significantly below the legal load as to be a safety issue, it 
is expected that posting would occur earlier than 30 days. These are 
examples of critical findings that are required to be addressed under 
this rule.
    A number of non-substantive changes were made to the regulatory 
text for clarity and formatting purposes.

Regulatory History

    The FHWA issued an ANPRM on November 18, 2008, (73 FR 68365) to 
solicit public comments regarding 14 categories of information related 
to tunnel inspections to help FHWA develop the NTIS. The FHWA reviewed 
and analyzed the comments received in response to the ANPRM and 
published an NPRM on July 22, 2010 (75 FR 42643). In the NPRM, FHWA 
proposed establishing the NTIS based in part on the comments received 
in response to the ANPRM. The FHWA published an SNPRM on July 30, 2013, 
(78 FR 46118) in order to update NTIS for the comments received on the 
NPRM and incorporate the requirements mandated in MAP-21. The FHWA 
received comments on the SNPRM from 26 commenters, including: 16 State 
DOTs (Alabama, Alaska, California, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New 
York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, 
Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington); 1 engineering consulting 
firm (Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations, and 
Maintenance Technology Corporation (AECOM)); 4 organizations (AASHTO, 
American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), National Society of 
Professional Engineers (NSPE), and Professional Engineers in California 
Government (PECG)); 2 local authorities (the Maryland Transportation 
Authority (MdTA) and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bridges and 
Tunnels of New York City (MTABT); 2 private citizens (William Wright 
and John Williams); and 1 anonymous commenter. This final rule 
addresses the comments received on the SNPRM and establishes the NTIS.

Section-by-Section Analysis

650.501 Purpose

    The California DOT commented that a regulation focused on in-
service inspection will not prevent another occurrence of the 
Massachusetts ``Big Dig'' failure.
    The FHWA Response: With regard to the ``Big Dig'' failure, the NTSB 
investigation found that ``had the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, at 
regular intervals between November 2003 and July 2006, inspected the 
area above the suspended ceilings in the D Street portal tunnels, the 
anchor creep that led to this accident would likely have been detected, 
and action could have been taken that would have prevented this 
accident.'' \14\ The FHWA concurs with NTSB that timely tunnel routine 
(in-service) inspections are key to preventing tunnel failures such as 
the Big Dig failure.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \14\ NTSB, Ceiling Collapse in the Interstate 90 Connector 
Tunnel 103 (2007), http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/reports/2007/HAR0702.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Missouri DOT commented that although it seems logical to make 
the NTIS similar to the NBIS, tunnels are unique structures and should 
be treated differently from bridges.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA did use the NBIS as a starting point in 
developing the NTIS. The NBIS have proven successful in ensuring the 
safety

[[Page 41355]]

of the Nation's bridges for several decades. However, FHWA recognizes 
the difference between tunnels and bridges and portions of the NTIS 
depart from the companion provisions of the NBIS where necessary.

650.503 Applicability

    The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities 
commented that owners should decide whether a structure will be defined 
as a tunnel, culvert, or bridge.
    The FHWA Response: Where a structure could be defined as either a 
bridge or a tunnel, as in the case of a ``tunnel'' that is used to 
support a roadway, this regulation gives the structure's owner the 
discretion to determine how it will be classified (tunnel, culvert, or 
bridge). Under such a scenario the structure may be classified as 
either a tunnel or a bridge, but not both. Structures classified as 
bridges would be subject to the NBIS, while those structures classified 
as tunnels would be subject to the NTIS. Bridge-length culverts are 
classified as bridges and are also subject to the NBIS. When a 
structure functions solely as a tunnel, FHWA expects that it will be 
defined as a tunnel.

650.505 Definitions

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials 
(AASHTO) Manual for Bridge Evaluation. The FHWA changed this definition 
so that it's consistent with the incorporation be reference section. 
This change allows the FHWA to require the current version of the 
document to be utilized.
    Complex tunnel. The AASHTO and the Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York 
DOTs commented that the definition of ``complex tunnel'' is too vague 
and that a clearer definition is needed. They suggest adding additional 
features like geometrics, structural criteria, and/or inclusion of 
functional systems to better define a ``complex tunnel.'' The Missouri 
DOT suggested that there is no need to define ``complex tunnel'' since 
all tunnels are complex by their nature and will require an individual 
approach for inspection. The Oregon DOT suggested that the definition 
include tunnels with multiple traffic levels, multiple traffic 
directions, on/off ramps, and ventilation systems that have automated 
controls or fire suppression systems.
    The FHWA response: The FHWA believes the modified version of the 
AASHTO T-20 definition is adequate to capture the structures targeted 
by this regulation without overcomplicating the determination of what 
is or is not a tunnel.\15\ The current definition clearly states that a 
structure shall be inspected and reported only once under either the 
NBIS or the NTIS, but not both. The FHWA believes that including 
categories for tunnels, or additional detailed language on functional 
systems or type of construction, would narrow what is intended to be a 
fairly broad definition. Also, the definition for complex tunnel 
addresses advanced or unique structural elements or functional systems.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \15\ ``AASHTO T-20'' refers to the American Association of State 
Highway and Transportation Officials Highway Subcommittee on Bridges 
and Structures, Technical Committee T-20 Tunnels.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Critical findings. The Texas DOT suggested that FHWA define 
``critical findings'' for tunnels in order to ensure national 
consistency. Ohio DOT suggested considering a condition coding of `2' 
or less as the definition of a ``critical finding.''
    The FHWA response: The FHWA believes it is not possible to create 
an all-inclusive list of issues that could exist in tunnels and that 
adding additional language would limit the definition of a ``critical 
finding.'' Tunnels will be inspected using an element-level methodology 
included in the Tunnel Operations, Maintenance, Inspection and 
Evaluation (TOMIE) Manual and, as a result, will not generate condition 
codes.
    End-of-course assessment. As outlined in the below discussion, FHWA 
has significantly altered the qualification requirements for Program 
Managers and Team Leaders in response to comments. As a result, it 
became necessary to include a definition for ``end-of-course 
assessment'' as this phrase is now used in the determination of the 
qualifications for a Program Manager and Team Leader. The term ``end-
of-course assessment'' means a comprehensive examination given to 
students after the completion of a training course.
    Inspection Date. Washington State DOT questioned whether the 
official Inspection Date is the first day or last day of the inspection 
if the inspection lasts for more than 1 day. Oregon DOT and AASHTO 
noted that some States record the Inspection Date as the date the 
inspection was completed.
    The FHWA response: Irrespective of the duration of the inspection, 
the ``Inspection Date'' is the date, established by the Program 
Manager, on which the inspection begins.
    Load rating. The Ohio DOT suggested that under the definition for 
``load rating,'' ``there are non-vehicular loads the tunnel should 
account for i.e. rock impact, suspended systems.'' The AASHTO expressed 
concern that the definition does not include the evaluation of ``tunnel 
ceiling hangers or conduit attachments for dead load of the ceiling 
itself and for live load produced by trucks pushing air thru the 
tunnels that creates a compression force on the hangers.''
    The FHWA response: The current definition of ``load rating'' in 23 
CFR 650.305 is ``the determination of the live load carrying capacity 
of a bridge using bridge plans and supplemented by information gathered 
from a field inspection.'' The current definition in the AASHTO Manual 
for Bridge Evaluation is ``the determination of the live-load carrying 
capacity of an existing bridge.'' As the proposed definition is 
consistent with 23 CFR 650.305 and the AASHTO Manual, FHWA declines the 
changes suggested by AASHTO and Ohio DOT. In addition, the commenters' 
suggested changes would effectively incorporate structural evaluation, 
which is separate from load rating. Structural evaluation can be 
required by the owner at any time and should occur automatically if 
damage or deterioration with the potential to affect performance is 
detected through an inspection.
    Routine permit load. Ohio DOT suggested that the definition for 
``routine permit load'' should also include ``geometrics taking into 
consideration the limited size, curvature, and traffic control 
associated with permitted vehicles through tunnels.''
    The FHWA response: The FHWA believes the definition in this rule is 
consistent with the definition used in the NBIS and is commonly 
accepted and understood within the bridge and tunnel community. Routine 
permit loads need to be defined for the purposes of this rule because 
they are used to conduct load ratings. While factors like geometrics 
and traffic control are important considerations for evaluating safe 
passage of vehicles in tunnels, for the purposes of defining routine 
permit load, they are unnecessary.
    Tunnel. California and Ohio DOTs suggested that the definition of 
``tunnel'' include such physical parameters as linear length, length to 
width, forced ventilation to limit carbon monoxide buildup, fire 
suppression systems, structures bored or mined through undisturbed 
material, emergency egress, and depth of cover. They suggested that the 
definition needs to be explicit to ensure public entities are able to 
consistently distinguish the difference between a tunnel, bridge, and 
culvert. The South Dakota DOT questioned

[[Page 41356]]

whether FHWA intends for the tunnel inventory to include ``short/small 
hard rock unlined tunnels that have no man made structural 
components.'' Tennessee DOT suggested that the definition ensures a 
structure is exempt from the tunnel inspection program only if it is 
being inspected under the NBIS as a full bridge record, as opposed to 
only an underpass record. They also suggested that FHWA include a 
minimum length in the definition. Tennessee DOT explained that ``the 
length should be selected such that it is large enough to exclude 
normal underpass structures but will include any structure that is long 
enough to require the special attributes (lighting, ventilation, etc.) 
of true tunnels.'' They recommended a length of 50 meters. Florida DOT 
interpreted the proposed definition of ``tunnel'' to say that if a 
tunnel is inspected and inventoried as part of their bridge inspection 
program, then they don't have to include that tunnel in a tunnel 
inspection program.
    The FHWA response: The FHWA believes the modified version of the 
AASHTO T-20 definition is adequate to capture the structures targeted 
with this proposed regulation without overly complicating the 
determination of what constitutes a tunnel. Consistent with the 
majority of the comments received on the ANPRM and the NPRM, this 
definition does not include a minimum length. The FHWA believes that 
including categories for tunnels, or additional detailed language on 
functional systems or type of construction, would narrow what is 
intended to be a broad definition. Also, the definition for ``complex 
tunnel'' addresses advanced or unique structural elements or functional 
systems. Finally, if a State DOT classifies a structure as a tunnel, it 
will need to be inspected and inventoried under NTIS. If a structure 
serves a dual purpose and is already being inspected and inventoried 
under NBIS, it will be the State DOT's decision to reclassify the 
structure as a tunnel.
    Washington State DOT noted that the ``tunnel'' definition ``does 
not make reference to load carrying element. In fact it states 
``bridges'' are covered separately under the NBI.'' The Washington 
State DOT suggested that FHWA modify the definition to clarify what the 
load rating requirements are referring to, and whether the load ratings 
for traffic carrying elements will be reported under NTIS or NBIS.
    The FHWA Response: Within the NTIS regulations, the definition of 
load rating includes the phrase ``the determination of the vehicular 
live load carrying capacity within or above the tunnel.'' As the 
commenter notes, these structures do not include bridges or culverts. 
Therefore these elements will be reported to the NTI.
    Tunnel inspection experience. The Washington State DOT noted that 
``tunnel inspection experience'' should include experience in similar 
fields such as bridge inspection. The Ohio DOT suggested that the 
definition for tunnel inspection experience is too restrictive and will 
encourage entities to code potential tunnels as bridges.
    The FHWA response: The FHWA added language in the SNPRM to clarify 
the criteria to be used in evaluating years of experience under Sec.  
650.509(a), including: The relevance of the individual's actual 
experience, exposure to problems or deficiencies common in the types of 
tunnels inspected by the individual, complexity of tunnels inspected 
relative to the individual's skills and knowledge, and the individual's 
understanding of data collection needs and requirements. Under the 
NTIS, tunnel inspection experience is only one of the requirements used 
to evaluate the eligibility of a Program Manager or Team Leader.
    Oregon DOT and AASHTO noted that owner agencies have very few 
tunnels in comparison to bridges, making it unlikely that tunnel 
inspection will be a full time job in most agencies. They raised their 
concern that, as proposed, the experience requirement would cause 
inspection outsourcing. To address this, they suggested modifying the 
definition of ``tunnel inspection experience'' to make participation in 
a single tunnel inspection per calendar year sufficient.
    The FHWA response: The FHWA believes that flexibility is built into 
the regulation in that it only requires the individual to actively 
participate in the performance of tunnel inspections in accordance with 
the NTIS, in either a field inspection, supervisory, or management 
role. It is expected that the Program Manager use his or her judgment 
in the evaluation of whether a Team Leader has reasonable experience in 
any given year to satisfy that year's experience criteria.
    Tunnel-specific inspection procedures. Virginia DOT commented that 
``written documentation should not be required for damage or special 
inspections.'' Oregon DOT and AASHTO expressed concern that if this 
requirement is not limited, FHWA could impose requirements for 
maintenance, drainage, operational, damage, or special inspections that 
would greatly restrict an owner's ability to manage and operate their 
tunnels.
    The FHWA response: The FHWA agrees that it would be difficult to 
write specific procedures for any damage incident that could occur in a 
tunnel or special inspection that would be necessary for tunnel 
components. However, general guidance should be included in each 
structure inspection procedure to address how the inspectors should 
inspect and document a damage or special inspection of deficient tunnel 
components.

650.507 Tunnel Inspection Organization Responsibilities

    The PECG commented that they ``firmly believe that the inspection 
process is inherently governmental'' and that the regulation should 
``clearly state that a State is required to use their own professional 
staff to perform tunnel inspection functions unless the State lacks its 
own current or obtainable professional staff with the qualifications 
and capacity to perform the inspections.''
    The FHWA Response: The final rule includes the qualification 
requirements for personnel who will manage, plan, and conduct tunnel 
inspections. The FHWA is not in a position to determine the most 
efficient and effective way for an owner to identify the personnel 
needed to meet those qualifications. Therefore, owners will need to 
make individual decisions based on the best use of their program 
resources.
    Michigan DOT questioned whether this final rule would apply to 
privately or locally owned tunnels and, if so, whether the State 
program manager be responsible for inventory and inspection according 
to NTIS.
    The FHWA Response: The MAP-21 legislation mandates that the NTIS 
apply to all highway tunnels. Therefore, if a privately or locally 
owned tunnel not owned by a Federal agency or tribal government 
services a public roadway, then it is subject to this final rule and 
the State DOT is ultimately responsible for the inspection and 
inventory of that tunnel.
    Ohio DOT noted that State law does not give the Ohio DOT the 
authority to inspect, or cause to be inspected, locally owned tunnels. 
The AASHTO and Oregon DOT commented that some State laws do not allow 
the State DOT to conduct these inspections unless there is an executed 
agreement with the local owner.
    The FHWA Response: This requirement is similar to the long standing 
requirement for the inspection of bridges under the NBIS. Under 23 
U.S.C. 302, a State DOT is required to have adequate powers to fulfill 
its duties. If the current legal or regulatory

[[Page 41357]]

authority does not exist within a State to carry out this 
responsibility, the State DOT should seek that authority through the 
appropriate legislative process.
    New York State DOT commented that many large tunnels are locally 
owned and suggested that FHWA deal directly with those owners instead 
of with the State highway agencies. New York State DOT also commented 
that requiring a State that owns a small number of small tunnels to 
establish a Tunnel Inspection Organization is a ``waste of resources, 
ineffective, and unnecessary.'' Ohio and Missouri DOTs also commented 
that States with a small number of tunnels should not be required to 
have a Program Manager or establish a Tunnel Inspection Organization, 
respectively.
    The FHWA Response: Under 23 U.S.C. 302, FHWA's primary relationship 
in a State is with the State DOT. The State DOT maintains the primary 
relationship with the local owners within its borders. As such, the 
State DOT is in the best position to manage the inspection and 
inventory of locally owned tunnels. For States that have a small number 
of tunnels and cannot easily incorporate a tunnel inspection 
organization into their bridge inspection organization, it might be 
more effective for the State DOT to contract out many of the elements 
of a Tunnel Inspection Organization to another party. Although the 
delegation of some functions is permitted under this final rule, the 
State DOT retains all of the responsibilities detailed in the 
regulation.
    Florida, Missouri, Texas, Michigan, New York State, and Virginia 
DOTs and AECOM questioned whether it was realistic, feasible, or 
necessary for a State DOT to maintain a registry of nationally 
certified tunnel inspectors. Several suggested that FHWA or another 
nationally recognized organization assume the responsibility. Virginia 
DOT also commented that the registry should include an inspector's 
current organizational information.
    The FHWA Response: FHWA believes it is important for each State DOT 
to maintain a State-specific registry of certified inspectors who 
perform or have performed inspections on their tunnels. There are a 
number of reasons that each State should maintain this registry. The 
registry can be used to communicate with inspectors who work in that 
State to announce such things as anticipated work, training 
requirements, and training opportunities. State-specific requirements 
for inspectors can be incorporated and data quality is more easily 
maintained at the State level. Also, information affecting the good 
standing of any inspector would be local. With regard to the registry 
containing an inspector's organizational information, FHWA intended the 
requirement for the registry to contain an inspector's contact and 
organizational information.
    Washington DOT questioned whether the requirement that the 
nationally certified tunnel inspector registry include a method to 
positively identify each inspector means that the registry should 
include photo identification.
    The FHWA Response: FHWA did not intend to imply that a photograph 
was required for positive identification of an inspector. The FHWA also 
does not intend to dictate what method is used by a State DOT in 
fulfilling this requirement. However, a unique numbering system that 
positively ties an individual to a certification record would satisfy 
this requirement.
    New York State DOT commented that clarification was needed 
regarding the collection of information that may affect the good 
standing of an inspector. They note that maintaining this information 
may also subject the State DOT to unnecessary legal exposure.
    The FHWA Response: It is the intent of FHWA to ensure that all 
inspectors meet the requirements of national certification and that 
they have not previously demonstrated behavior that could call into 
question whether the inspector could be trusted to adequately perform 
all assigned inspection activities. The level of detail needed in the 
information collected to challenge or negate an inspector's good 
standing is left to the judgment of the State DOT.
    The AASHTO and Oregon DOT commented that some States may have 
specific requirements for tunnel inspectors that are more restrictive 
or robust than national standards, and it would be an unnecessary 
burden to maintain two separate lists of inspectors--one for those 
meeting State requirements and one for those meeting national 
requirements.
    The FHWA Response: It is not the intent of FHWA to require States 
to maintain a Federal-specific registry of certified tunnel inspectors. 
As long as the registry used by the State DOT fulfills the requirements 
of this regulation, it may also be used to maintain State specific 
information about each inspector.

650.509 Qualifications of Personnel

    California, Texas, South Dakota, Michigan, Missouri, and 
Pennsylvania DOTs commented that requiring the Program Manager to have 
10 years of tunnel inspection experience, be a P.E., and be a 
nationally certified tunnel inspector is excessive and cautioned that 
many States do not have staff that meet these requirements. Texas DOT 
recommended requiring 5 years of tunnel inspection experience in 
combination with a P.E. license. The MdTA supported the requirement 
that a Program Manager have a P.E. license. Florida DOT also supported 
the requirement for Program Managers to have a P.E. license but thought 
10 years of inspection experience was excessive and preferred a 
requirement for 1 or 2 years of inspection experience. Ohio, Alaska, 
and New York State DOTs and AASHTO requested that consideration be 
given to add an experience component to allow non-P.Es. to perform the 
Program Manager role, similar to the NBIS. Another consideration 
offered by South Dakota DOT was that qualification requirements for a 
Program Manager be risk-based, depending on the complexity of an 
owner's tunnels. The MTABT commented that in addition to the P.E. 
license, 10 years of tunnel or bridge inspection experience, and 
comprehensive training, the Program Manager should have extensive 
experience in tunnel design and tunnel construction.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA has reconsidered the requirement that a 
Program Manager be a P.E. Recognizing the success that the NBIS has had 
using Program Managers qualified by experience in lieu of a P.E., the 
qualifications for a Program Manager in NTIS are now similar to those 
in the NBIS. A Program Manager shall, at a minimum, be a registered 
Professional Engineer or have 10 years of tunnel or bridge inspection 
experience, be a nationally certified tunnel inspector, and be able to 
determine the minimum qualifications for a Team Leader.
    Alabama, Alaska, California, Missouri, New York State, North 
Carolina, and Pennsylvania DOTs and AASHTO commented that the proposed 
P.E. requirement for Team Leaders, in addition to tunnel inspection 
experience and inspector certification, is too restrictive and that the 
requirements for Team Leaders should mirror those of the NBIS. The MdTA 
agreed that the Team Leader should be required to have a P.E. Several 
States commented that the P.E. requirement would preclude in-house 
inspectors who have gained knowledge and experience from performing 
tunnel inspections or are seasoned bridge inspectors from filling these 
positions.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA has reconsidered the P.E. license 
requirement proposed for Team Leaders. Recognizing the success that the 
NBIS has had using Team Leaders qualified

[[Page 41358]]

by experience in lieu of a P.E. license, the qualifications for a Team 
Leader in NTIS are now similar to those in NBIS. However, FHWA added an 
additional requirement that requires a Program Manager to determine 
when a Team Leader who is leading the inspection of a complex tunnel or 
a tunnel with distinctive features or functions must have a P.E. 
license.
    Washington State DOT commented that the proposed rule should 
require a minimal level of prior inspection experience to become a lead 
inspector.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA agrees that Team Leaders should have 
prior inspection experience and has added the requirement to the final 
rule. Team Leaders are now required to have either a P.E. license and 
at least 6 months of inspection experience, 5 years of inspection 
experience, or a combination of education, certification with 2 years 
of inspection experience.
    The MdTA commented that any mechanical or electrical engineers 
supporting a tunnel inspection should only need their P.E. license and 
any discipline-specific certifications, and should not be required to 
be nationally certified tunnel inspectors. The MdTA commented further 
that the discipline-specific staff supporting an inspection should just 
know how to perform their job (InterNational Electrical Testing 
Association testing for example) and should not be required to be 
familiar with tunnel inspection in general. Similarly, Missouri DOT 
noted that inspectors of functional systems should not be required to 
be nationally certified tunnel inspectors.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA agrees with the comments and has 
limited the requirement for national certification as a tunnel 
inspector to the Program Manager and Team Leader.
    Washington State DOT questioned whether a Team Leader for unlined 
tunnels will need a P.E. license in the field of geotechnical 
engineering.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA does not believe it necessary to 
identify the discipline of a P.E. license since license holders are 
ethically bound to practice engineering only in their area of 
expertise. However, under the provisions of the final rule, the Program 
Manager will determine whether a Team Leader mush have a P.E. license 
and any additional requirement of that license in accordance with the 
FHWA-approved process developed by the Tunnel Inspection Organization. 
The definition for Professional Engineer in section 650.505 of the rule 
emphasizes that a P.E. is limited to practicing within their area of 
expertise. Further, FHWA believes it is the responsibility of the Team 
Leader to assemble a team of inspectors with appropriate expertise and 
experience to inspect the various elements, components, and systems 
that comprise the tunnel.
    The ACEC expressed support for requiring both Program Managers and 
Team Leaders to have a P.E. license.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA has reconsidered the requirement that a 
Program Manager and a Team Leader must be a P.E. Recognizing the 
success that the NBIS has had using Program Managers and Team Leaders 
qualified by experience in lieu of a P.E., the qualifications for a 
Program Manager and a Team Leader in NTIS are now similar to those in 
the NBIS. However, FHWA added an additional requirement that requires a 
Program Manager to determine when a Team Leader who is leading the 
inspection of a complex tunnel or a tunnel with distinctive features or 
functions must have a P.E. license.
    Missouri, Oregon, and Washington State DOTs and NSPE suggested that 
the requirement that the Program Manager be a nationally certified 
tunnel inspector is excessive.
    The FHWA response: The FHWA believes that due to the difference in 
the complexity of the structures that are being inspected under the 
NTIS, and the need for a general understanding of the functional 
systems included in the design of these structures, this requirement is 
appropriate for Program Managers.
    Washington State DOT and MTABT stated that the experience listed in 
Sec.  650.509(a)(1) is not clear or relevant.
    The FHWA response: The FHWA believes that Sec. Sec.  650.509(a)(1), 
(2), and (3) are all measures that may be used in evaluating the 
Program Manager's 10 years of experience requirement. Section 
650.509(a)(1) addresses an individual's field experience in leading an 
inspection team (bridge or tunnel). This is just one skill set that a 
Program Manager should possess to understand the challenges associated 
with the tunnel inspection program.
    Oregon DOT and AASHTO suggested that any tunnel inspection 
experience gained in a given year should be counted as credit for that 
year.
    The FHWA response: The relevance of an individual's actual 
experience, including the extent to which the individual's experience 
on at least one tunnel inspection per calendar year has enabled the 
individual to develop the skills needed to properly lead a tunnel 
safety inspection, will be determined by the Program Manager.
    The AASHTO commented that Sec.  650.509(a)(1) will increase its 
members' costs because some States will lack qualified inspectors and 
may be forced to hire consultants to do inspections. The AASHTO further 
indicated that States ``would like to have the ability to perform 
interim inspections of special focus areas with bridge inspectors that 
have taken the tunnel inspector training.''
    The FHWA response: The FHWA believes that the minimum criteria 
established in Sec.  650.509(a) are necessary to ensure that tunnel 
inspectors are qualified to inspect tunnels.
    California DOT questioned why experienced bridge inspectors who 
have not completed the certification training are not qualified to 
inspect tunnels under the direction of a Team Leader. North Carolina 
and Oregon DOTs and AASHTO suggested that the Program Manager should be 
able to establish State-specific qualifications for inspectors of 
functional systems.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA has reconsidered the requirement that 
all tunnel inspectors need to be nationally certified. Under the final 
rule, only the Program Manager and Team Leaders are required to be 
nationally certified tunnel inspectors. However, FHWA believes it is 
the responsibility of the Team Leader to assemble a team of inspectors 
with appropriate expertise and experience to inspect the various 
elements, components, and systems that comprise the tunnel.
    Pennsylvania DOT and AECOM suggested that FHWA consider addressing 
qualifications for inspectors of functional systems. Pennsylvania DOT 
suggested more flexibility in those qualifications. South Dakota DOT 
suggested that inspectors of unlined tunnels should have a geotechnical 
background.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA believes it is the responsibility of 
the Team Leader to assemble a team of inspectors with appropriate 
expertise and experience to inspect the various elements, components, 
and systems that comprise the tunnel.
    California DOT noted that the development of the specialized 
training and procedures by FHWA to improve inspections would benefit 
States, but is concerned about deadlines because no training program 
currently is in place.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA agrees that training for tunnel 
inspection is a critical part of the NTIS program, and we are actively 
working with National Highway Institute (NHI) to complete the 
development of this training. It is the intent of FHWA that the 
required training will be available shortly after the final rule is 
published,

[[Page 41359]]

which should provide sufficient time for all deadlines to be met.
    California DOT noted that there is no current national 
certification program.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA added the requirements for nationally 
certified tunnel inspectors in the SNPRM as a result of the 
requirements of MAP-21. The FHWA is developing training and expects 
that the training required to become a nationally certified tunnel 
inspector will be available soon after the effective date of this final 
rule.
    Oregon DOT commented that States should be able to establish 
inspector qualifications and maintain their own certification lists.
    The FHWA Response: Because of the variability and complexity of the 
structures that are being inspected under the NTIS, FHWA believes that 
minimum national standards for inspectors will bring national 
consistency to tunnel inspections, evaluations, and data collection/
submission. However, State DOTs may require additional qualifications 
for tunnel inspectors in their State. Any State maintained 
certification list or registry of inspectors that meet the minimum 
requirements of this final rule can serve as the State's registry of 
nationally certified tunnel inspectors.
    The MTABT commented that ``the development and initiation of 
National Tunnel Inspector certification programs should be administered 
by individual States, similar to the Bridge Inspector certification and 
in advance of the effective date of this rule.''
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA has approved alternate bridge 
inspection training courses used to meet the NBIS comprehensive 
training requirements; however, most States use the FHWA-developed 
training. Similarly, under the NTIS, FHWA will permit States to use 
FHWA-approved training in order for inspectors to meet the 
qualifications for national certification. Also, FHWA agrees that 
States should maintain a registry of nationally certified tunnel 
inspectors that work in their State.
    Washington State DOT asked whether the training to be a 
``nationally certified tunnel inspector'' will be ``specific to each 
discipline (structural, mechanical, electrical).''
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA intends for the proposed tunnel 
inspection training course to be comprehensive in nature. This training 
course will cover the content of the TOMIE Manual and the 
Specifications for the NTI. The FHWA believes that adequate guidance is 
provided in these manuals to inspect and code the conditions of tunnel 
elements.
    Florida DOT asked how long a State Highway Agency will have after a 
new Program Manager is designated for this individual to take the 
required comprehensive course.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA is currently developing a comprehensive 
tunnel inspection training course. We believe that it will be available 
for all owners to ensure that all programmatic requirements can be met 
and the initial inspections completed within 24 months from the 
effective date of this final rule. The FHWA expects future Program 
Managers to meet the requirements of NTIS before they are designated as 
the Program Manager.
    California DOT questioned why refresher training for tunnels must 
be FHWA-approved and why refresher training is required every 48 months 
for tunnel inspectors. California DOT noted that there is no similar 
refresher training requirement in NBIS and suggested that NTIS be 
consistent. Similarly, New York State DOT suggests removing 48-month 
refresher training requirement to be consistent with NBIS for bridge 
inspections. Virginia DOT requested that the refresher training 
requirement interval be no less than 60 months. California DOT also 
asked how various disciplines (structural, mechanical, and electrical) 
will recertify.
    The FHWA Response: The final rule has been revised to extend the 
interval for required refresher training to 60 months. Also, only 
Program Managers and Team Leaders are required to attend refresher 
training. The purpose of refresher training is to improve the quality 
of tunnel inspections, introduce new techniques, and maintain the 
consistency of the tunnel inspection program once every 60 months. The 
required refresher training will be comprehensive and will cover all 
disciplines. The FHWA currently requires its approval for bridge 
inspection training and bridge inspection refresher training.
    The ACEC expressed support for the requirement that inspectors 
complete a comprehensive training course and periodic ``refresher'' 
courses in order to be certified, as provided in Sec.  650.509(e).
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA acknowledges the comment.

650.511 Inspection Interval

    Alaska DOT commented that the initial inspection requirement for 
existing tunnels should be extended to 3 years from the effective date 
of this final rule if the existing tunnels are not currently inspected 
at a shorter interval. The AECOM commented that it will be a challenge 
for tunnel owners to meet the requirements of NTIS in 24 months and 
suggested that FHWA consider a phased approach.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA appreciates the challenge that 
implementation of this final rule will pose for tunnel owners. However, 
the 24-month requirement for both the initial and routine inspections 
was supported by comments on the NPRM received from State DOTs, AASHTO, 
and others. In addition, tunnels are constructed with similar materials 
and methods and face similar deterioration mechanisms as bridges, and 
the 24-month inspection interval required for bridges under NBIS has 
proven very successful. As a result of the significant support for this 
interval of inspection and the success of past practice in the bridge 
industry, FHWA elects to keep the initial inspection requirement at 24 
months.
    Alaska DOT also commented that the requirement for an initial 
inspection should be waived if an existing tunnel is already regularly 
inspected and that FHWA should permit the Program Manager to waive the 
requirement for a routine inspection when a tunnel is regularly 
inspected in a more rigorous manner.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA will not waive the requirement for an 
initial inspection. The initial inspection is intended to provide the 
baseline of inventory and condition information needed to fulfill the 
requirements of NTIS. However, if a tunnel is already regularly 
inspected and the State DOT can document that the latest inspection was 
conducted in accordance with the minimum requirements of NTIS, FHWA 
will accept the inventory and condition data from that inspection as 
the initial inspection. This information will establish the Inspection 
Date for the tunnel and then compel the next routine inspection at the 
appropriate interval.
    The FHWA will not waive the requirement for a routine inspection of 
a tunnel that is regularly and rigorously inspected. However, if a 
tunnel is being regularly inspected in a more rigorous manner than 
required by NTIS, FHWA will recognize those inspections as meeting the 
definition of a routine inspection.
    With regard to the requirement for initial inspection, Ohio DOT 
commented that 12 months is too short of a time period to enact such a 
comprehensive program that includes a new manual, training, possible 
contracts, and staffing components.
    The FHWA Response: The time period proposed in the SNPRM and 
included in this final rule for conducting the initial inspection is 24 
months from the effective date of the final rule.

[[Page 41360]]

    Ohio DOT commented that the criteria used to support an extended 
routine inspection interval should be established before issuing the 
regulation to eliminate inconsistencies between FHWA Division Offices. 
Ohio DOT also commented that in addition to the factors listed in the 
SNPRM, the criteria should include access for emergency vehicles, 
traffic evacuation, and response to emergencies. Oregon and Virginia 
DOTs and AASHTO suggested removing the list of risk factors.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA has not attempted to produce an all-
inclusive list of the criteria that need to be considered in order to 
justify an extended routine inspection interval. A general list of 
factors to be assessed is included in the final rule, but FHWA believes 
it is the responsibility of the State DOT to produce an appropriate 
evaluation that considers the risk associated with the particular 
circumstances of a tunnel in justifying an extended routine inspection 
interval. The FHWA has provided these general criteria to establish a 
minimum baseline and create consistency.
    Washington State DOT commented that requiring an initial inspection 
for new tunnels before opening to traffic is ``overly restrictive and 
does not match [the] direction [of] the NBIS.'' Washington State DOT 
suggested requiring the inventory inspection within 90 days of a tunnel 
opening and the functional system inspection prior to the opening of 
the tunnel.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA believes that the thoroughness and 
efficiency of an initial tunnel inspection is increased when it is 
conducted prior to opening. In this scenario, FHWA thinks it likely 
that the initial inspection to fulfill the requirements of NTIS will be 
conducted concurrent with the final construction inspection. Because 
tunnels, unlike most bridges, typically contain many elements that are 
suspended or otherwise fixed over the travel lanes, FHWA wants the 
initial inspection of new tunnels to be conducted prior to opening the 
tunnel to ensure the safety of the traveling public.
    Texas DOT suggested that the routine Inspection Date be reported in 
a month, day, and year (MM/DD/YYYY) format and that the whole 4-digit 
year be used.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA agrees with the suggestion and has 
revised the final rule to require the routine Inspection Date in a 
month, day, and year format with a 4-digit year.
    The MTABT suggested an interval of 10 years between ``comprehensive 
inspections (in-depth inspections) for all structural and functional 
systems.'' The MTABT also commented that ``[r]outine [i]nspection 
intervals and intensity also be variable based on continuous routine 
maintenance and a full time presence of maintenance, operations, and 
engineering staff on-site.'' Alaska, Michigan, and Texas DOTs suggested 
that routine inspection intervals should be determined by States, by 
their Program Managers and Team Leaders, using a risk-based method. The 
Texas and Michigan DOTs suggested that routine inspection intervals 
should be determined by States using a risk-based method. The Alaska 
and Oregon DOTs commented that the frequency and type of inspection 
should be established by the owner and not regulated by Federal 
agencies.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA believes that the similarities between 
bridge and tunnel construction materials and associated deterioration 
mechanisms, design methodologies, and inspection technologies and 
protocols, along with the long-standing success of the 24-month 
inspection interval under NBIS and the current inspection activities of 
many tunnel owners, support the establishment of a 24-month routine 
inspection interval under NTIS. The FHWA also believes that there is 
flexibility in the final rule to accommodate both extended routine 
inspection intervals after consideration of appropriate factors and 
more rigorous inspection procedures based on the needs of a particular 
tunnel.
    Washington State DOT stated that they currently inspect some 
tunnels on a 48-month interval and asked whether they will have to 
inspect them on a 24-month interval or provide FHWA a written request 
justifying the extended routine inspection interval as a result of the 
final rule.
    The FHWA Response: For tunnels currently inspected on a 48-month 
interval, the tunnel owner will be required to either reduce the 
inspection interval to 24-months, or receive approval from FHWA for the 
extended inspection interval. The FHWA's approval will be based on 
submission of a written justification that considers the appropriate 
criteria provided in the final rule.
    Washington State DOT commented that tunnel lining type should 
affect inspection interval and recommended that unlined tunnels and 
some types of lined tunnels should not be permitted for consideration 
of the extended inspection interval.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA expects that all appropriate risk 
factors need to be assessed when justifying an extended routine 
inspection interval. The tunnel owner is the best judge of the 
comprehensive list of criteria to be reviewed for a particular tunnel. 
The type and condition of the tunnel lining, although not explicitly 
stated in the regulation, should be considered as part of the 
assessment. The general criteria listed in the final rule include 
tunnel complexity, geotechnical conditions, and known deficiencies 
which should prompt a consideration of the type and condition of the 
tunnel lining.
    Texas DOT suggested that there should be no maximum tolerance for 
early inspections.
    The FHWA Response: Under the final rule, tunnel owners are allowed 
to begin an inspection 2 months before or after the Inspection Date to 
maintain that date in NTI. Inspections started prior to the 2-month 
tolerance given to the Inspection Date would require the Program 
Manager to modify the routine Inspection Date for a tunnel in order to 
maintain the regular 24-month interval. The FHWA believes that the need 
to modify this date should be minimized in order to avoid confusion in 
the data and history of inspection. However, the flexibility does exist 
for the Program Manager to modify the date if it is in the best 
interest of the tunnel owner, or traveling public to have a routine 
inspection started prior to the 2-month tolerance.

650.513 Inspection Procedures

    California DOT commented that the manual incorporated by reference 
is still a draft.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA released the TOMIE Manual as a draft 
because we were seeking comment on the contents from State DOTs and 
others. The FHWA will issue a final version of the TOMIE Manual with 
this final rule.
    Ohio DOT asked whether element-level inspections will be required 
or if NBIS condition rating inspections will be permitted.
    The FHWA Response: The TOMIE Manual and the Specifications for the 
NTI, both incorporated by reference in this final rule, require 
element-level inspections and include condition state language.
    Virginia DOT suggested that it is not necessary to have the Team 
Leader at the tunnel at all times during inspection, especially for 
components in which the Team Leader is not necessarily involved, as 
long as reporting procedures are in place for priority/critical 
findings.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA believes that while the Team Leader may 
not be able to add considerable technical expertise during a functional

[[Page 41361]]

system inspection, there are many quality control checks on data, 
documentation, safety, procedural checks, etc., that would be expected 
of the Team Leader while an inspection is being performed.
    The MTABT suggested adding a requirement to the tunnel inspection 
manual for periodic settlement and sounding surveys for subaqueous 
tunnels. They further suggested that this testing would be valuable 
because any significant change in the amount of cover over a tunnel may 
change the stresses imposed on the tunnel linings. The MTABT also 
commented that the scope of inspections could be variable, excluding, 
for example, systems under rehabilitation, newly in-service, or 
recently tested.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA believes it is the responsibility of 
the Team Leader to assemble a team of inspectors with appropriate 
expertise and experience to inspect the various elements, components, 
and systems that comprise the tunnel. The FHWA also believes that the 
scope of inspections will vary over time, based on the needs of a 
particular tunnel, and that the Team Leader, working with the Program 
Manager, will identify those needs and the appropriate level of 
inspection rigor.
    Ohio DOT suggested that the requirement to prepare and document 
tunnel-specific inspection procedures for each tunnel is ``overkill.'' 
They recommended that FHWA limit this requirement to only complex 
tunnels or clarify that the requirement will not result in unnecessary 
inspection manuals.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA expects that less detailed procedures 
will be developed for less complex tunnels.
    Pennsylvania DOT requested clearer guidance on data and inventory 
reporting requirements for functional (non-structural) systems and 
inspection procedures.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA has developed the content of the TOMIE 
Manual and the Specifications for the National Tunnel Inventory to 
provide adequate guidance to inspect and code the conditions of these 
functional systems.
    South Dakota DOT recommended different tunnel classifications with 
corresponding requirements based on risk and complexity.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA recognizes that there are differing 
types of tunnel construction. The FHWA believes it is the Program 
Manager's responsibility to establish a team of suitable inspectors to 
properly inspect a tunnel based on the risks associated with that 
tunnel.
    The AASHTO suggested that written inspection procedures should be 
required only for the structural portion of the routine and in-depth 
inspections, but not for damage or special inspections.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA acknowledges that it would be difficult 
to write specific procedures for every damage incident that could occur 
in a tunnel or special inspection that would be necessary for tunnel 
components. General guidance should be included in each structure 
inspection procedure to address how the inspectors would inspect and 
document a damage or special inspection of deficient tunnel components.
    Missouri DOT suggested that the NTIS regulations are too specific 
and complicated. They recommended that States write a tunnel-specific 
manual to cover all the components within a tunnel, qualifications 
needed for inspectors, inspection frequency for all components, load 
ratings, etc. They suggested that the contents of this manual would 
ultimately need to be agreed upon by FHWA and the State.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA modeled the complexity and level of 
detail of the NTIS after the NBIS. Under NTIS, States are free to 
develop tunnel-specific procedures and manuals as long as they comply 
with the program requirements of the regulation. The FHWA believes that 
as long as any tunnel-specific procedures meet the requirements of 
NTIS, they will ensure national consistency in tunnel inspection 
practices.
    Alabama, Oregon, and Pennsylvania DOTs and AASHTO suggested that 
flexibility is needed to allow maintenance and operations personnel 
meeting the NTIS qualifications to either participate in, or have 
oversight of, the tunnel inspection process.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA believes that it is necessary to have 
independent inspectors performing inspections of all aspects of the 
tunnel to ensure that an unbiased examination is conducted. This 
minimizes the possibility of a compromised review.
    California DOT asked why FHWA allows only 1 month between the 
Inspection Date and when the load rating is required and whether FHWA 
will allow assigned load ratings for tunnels.
    The FHWA Response: In response to comments, FHWA has extended the 
requirement for a load rating to 3 months after the completion of an 
inspection. Assigned load ratings will be permitted for the live load 
carrying elements in tunnels as long as the criteria supporting an 
assigned load rating detailed in the 2nd Edition of the AASHTO Manual 
for Bridge Evaluation (incorporated by reference in section 650.517) 
are satisfied. An assigned load rating would typically be made by the 
load rating engineer of the entity responsible for load rating a 
tunnel. However, a Program Manager, Team Leader, or other qualified 
engineer could also make the assigned rating as long as they met the 
requirements of the 2nd Edition of the AASHTO Manual for Bridge 
Evaluation as indicated previously.
    Washington State DOT questioned whether there was a need to load 
rate tunnel elements that do not carry live load. Washington State DOT 
also requested that the elements of a tunnel that do carry live load be 
defined.
    The FHWA Response: The proposed definition for load rating in this 
rule is consistent with 23 CFR 650.305 and the AASHTO Manual for Bridge 
Evaluation. The intent is that only elements of a tunnel that carry 
live load will require a load rating. The FHWA believes it would be 
difficult to prepare an exhaustive list of the elements that carry live 
load in tunnels due to the complexity and variety that exists in tunnel 
construction. The Program Manager working with the Team Leader should 
identify live load carrying elements of each tunnel and document those 
in the tunnel records.
    Missouri, Texas, Virginia, and Washington State DOTs commented that 
the proposed 48-hour timeframe to take action and post a structure is 
too short. These States indicated that sign fabrication and erection 
will take longer than 48 hours and recommended making the posting 
requirement consistent with NBIS, or following State policy or law. 
Missouri DOT recommended a more realistic expectation of 30 days.
    The FHWA Response: In response to the comments, FHWA has 
reconsidered the posting timeframe requirement and has revised the NTIS 
regulations to require posting within 30 days.
    New York State, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia DOTs and AASHTO 
suggested that it is unreasonable to require that a load rating 
evaluation be conducted as soon as practical, but not later than 1 
month after the completion of the inspection. The New York State and 
Texas DOTs recommended a 3-month or 90-day requirement.
    The FHWA Response: In response to the comments, FHWA has 
reconsidered the 1-month requirement and has revised the final rule to 
include a 3-

[[Page 41362]]

month requirement to load rate a tunnel after the completion of an 
inspection.
    Ohio DOT noted that ``some tunnels do not carry vehicles (above), 
but deterioration could still lower the load carrying capacity to the 
point of failure.'' Ohio DOT suggested eliminating the load-rating 
requirement or rewording it to ``consider dead load or falling rock 
onto liners etc.''
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA expects that only elements of a tunnel 
that carry live load will be load rated. The deterioration described by 
Ohio DOT should be documented appropriately and, if necessary, a 
structural evaluation conducted to ensure the tunnel can remain safely 
open.
    In Sec.  650.513(h), Virginia DOT recommended changing, ``must also 
include diagrams . . .'' to ``. . . will also include diagrams,'' since 
all the information may not be required for all tunnels.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA agrees with the comment and has revised 
the language in the final rule to clarify that the tunnel data listed 
in Sec.  650.513(h) is not required for every tunnel.
    Virginia DOT recommends modifying the documentation requirement in 
Sec.  650.513(h) by deleting part of the last sentence, ``as well as 
the national . . . for the inspection,'' and adding, ``In each 
inspection report, names of the Team Leader and inspectors and 
functional area inspected shall be identified.''
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA will only require the identification in 
the NTI of the Team Leader or Team Leaders responsible, in whole or in 
part, for a tunnel inspection. Others that were a part of, or support, 
an investigation will be identified in the inspection documentation.
    Oregon DOT and AASHTO recommended that electronic files be made 
equal to ``written documentation'' in the requirements for inspection 
documentation.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA agrees with the comment and has revised 
the language in the final rule.
    Ohio DOT asked if FHWA will take the lead in quality assurance, as 
it did in the 23 Metrics for NBIS.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA intends to develop an oversight 
process, similar to the 23 Metrics for NBIS, to monitor a State DOT's 
compliance with NTIS.
    California, Florida, Michigan, New York State, and Texas DOTs 
commented that the proposed requirement to notify FHWA of a critical 
finding within 24 hours of its discovery is too restrictive, and that 
regular updates on the resolution of critical findings and the annual 
summary reporting of the resolution of critical findings are excessive.
    The FHWA Response: Due to the critical nature of these conditions, 
FHWA does not believe that these requirements are excessive. The intent 
of these requirements is to create a reporting mechanism to FHWA of the 
most extreme and critical structural, component, system deteriorations, 
or failures that could be a threat to the traveling public's safety. 
Further, this portion of the final rule seeks to ensure that severe 
conditions are addressed in a timely and appropriate manner through 
oversight and partnership with FHWA, which was specifically required in 
MAP-21. The regulation does not require a formal report or a developed 
resolution, but simply notification of the local FHWA Division Office. 
The FHWA believes this can easily be accomplished through a telephone 
conversation or an email message.
    California DOT expressed concern that providing FHWA tunnel data on 
demand will create chaos by asking owners to answer questions on 
multiple sets of ever-changing data.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA expects that requests for data will be 
similar to those currently being made in support of the National Bridge 
Inspection Program. However, circumstances may arise when interim data 
sets will be needed to address an unforeseen challenge or situation.
    Ohio DOT asked if FHWA will supply standard reporting formats.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA-approved reporting formats are included 
in the NTIS docket and available on the FHWA Web site at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/inspection/tunnel/.
    Oregon DOT commented that the use of a system similar to the NBIS 
metrics to provide oversight will not adequately target the needs of a 
tunnel inspection program and ``instead have the unintended consequence 
of overly burdening owners into tasks not directly related to safety 
and effective management into time consuming data reporting.''
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA disagrees with the comment from Oregon 
DOT. Across the Nation, the NBIS' 23 Metrics process has helped focus 
owners and FHWA on gaps in compliance and issues that could potentially 
develop into safety concerns. The common understanding of the issues 
developed by assessment of the 23 Metrics will continue to strengthen 
the partnership between State DOTs and FHWA in addressing those 
challenges.
    Washington State DOT commented that the final rule should include 
the AASHTO Manual for Bridge Evaluation as an incorporated reference.
    The FHWA Response: The AASHTO Manual for Bridge Evaluation has been 
added to Sec.  650.517 and is now incorporated by reference for subpart 
E.
    Michigan and Oregon DOTs and AASHTO suggested FHWA use a number 
system similar to the current NBIS number (0-9) to identify critical 
findings.
    The FHWA Response: The NBIS does not include a number system to 
identify critical findings. The FHWA has used the NBIS definition of 
critical findings at all stages of this rulemaking. The definition is 
broad enough to appropriately define critical findings without 
overlooking unforeseen circumstances that may arise to a similar level 
of urgency.
    California DOT notes that the proposed tunnel inspection program 
will not address accidents that result in fires.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA believes that the tunnel inspection 
program will aid in recovery from these accidents by ensuring that 
functional systems are regularly inspected and evaluated to help 
minimize the impact on the traveling public during a fire event in a 
tunnel.

650.515 Inventory

    California and Texas DOTs expressed concern about the requirement 
to provide FHWA preliminary inventory data within 120 days of the 
effective date of the rule. California DOT believes that the time 
period to provide data on the tunnel inventory is not sufficient to 
identify all tunnels owned by local agencies. Texas DOT believes the 
timeframe will not allow them to adequately train inspectors to collect 
the data.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA understands the concern with completing 
the preliminary tunnel inventory within 120 days of the effective date 
of this rule as required in Sec.  650.515(a). The NPRM included a 
proposed requirement of 30 days for submitting preliminary inventory 
data. That proposal generated 3 comments, one in support of the 30 
days, one suggesting 90 days, and one suggesting it was an unrealistic 
requirement. All other commenters to the NPRM were silent on this 
proposed requirement. As a result, FHWA extended the proposed timeframe 
to 120 days in the SNPRM. This new 120 timeframe generated comments 
from California DOT and Texas DOT, with all other commenters silent on 
the requirement. While FHWA

[[Page 41363]]

understands California DOT's concern, FHWA believes it is a reasonable 
timeframe based on the limited number of tunnels expected to be 
reported for each jurisdiction. Also, with regard to the comment from 
Texas DOT, FHWA expects the data reported to be compiled from existing 
records and will not require tunnel inspectors to be deployed to 
collect data.
    Florida DOT requested that FHWA provide the appropriate format for 
inventory data submission. Washington State DOT and AASHTO asked where 
the required inventory and condition data is defined.
    The FHWA Response: The Specifications for the NTI is the document 
that is intended to supplement the NTIS and provide the specifications 
for coding data to be submitted to the NTI. The TOMIE Manual is the 
document that provides guidance to tunnel owners on operations, 
maintenance, inspection and evaluation practices. Drafts of both of 
these documents were made available with the SNPRM for review and 
comment. Both documents have been incorporated by reference in Sec.  
650.517.
    Washington State DOT expressed concern that the established time 
lines for reporting data should be consistent with the NBIS to reduce 
confusion.
    The FHWA Response: Where appropriate, FHWA established the timing 
of reporting activities under NTIS in a manner that will prevent 
confusion between NBIS and NTIS program requirements.
    The MdTA noted that tunnels are very complex and do not fit the 
mold of a bridge inspection program because their conditions are 
constantly changing. The MdTA commented further that the information 
collected for the NTI should be kept to a very high level.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA believes that the data defined in the 
Specifications for the National Tunnel Inventory and the TOMIE Manual 
is at a level appropriate for adequate national oversight and 
decisionmaking.
    Pennsylvania DOT and AASHTO suggested that an extended compliance 
deadline of at least 3 years should be considered.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA agrees that establishing a system for 
collecting and reporting tunnel inspection and inventory data will be a 
challenge for tunnel owners who have not instituted an inspection 
program on their own. In recognition of this, FHWA has extended the 
initial inspection requirement to 24 months from the effective date of 
this final rule. The FHWA believes that, based on responses to the 2003 
survey and comments received throughout the NTIS rulemaking process, 24 
months is a reasonable timeframe.

650.517 Incorporation by Reference

    The MTABT commented that the TOMIE Manual and the Specifications 
for the National Tunnel Inventory should be finalized after several 
cycles of technical reviews and field inspections are completed.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA believes it is necessary to have 
finalized versions of the TOMIE Manual and the Specifications for the 
National Tunnel Inventory in place with the final rule so that all 
tunnel owners will have the best knowledge of the national program 
requirements prior to the establishment of their State programs. The 
FHWA intends to make appropriate changes to these documents and the 
NTIS as we gather more experience with tunnel inspections and safety 
issues.
    William White commented that there is not a national standard for 
exit signs. He suggested that a requirement that exit doors be green in 
color and that the use of ``the running figure'' exit sign be included 
in the final rule.
    The FHWA Response: Use of the running figure exit sign and exit 
door identification are addressed in the TOMIE Manual, which is 
incorporated by reference in this final rule.
    South Dakota DOT asked whether there will be further information 
added to the TOMIE Manual or another reference to better cover the 
inspection requirements for small/short hard rock tunnels.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA believes the TOMIE Manual provides 
adequate guidance to inspect small/short hard rock tunnels. Owners of 
these types of tunnels will be required to develop tunnel-specific 
inspection procedures that adequately address safety concerns in 
addition to the guidance given in the TOMIE Manual.
    The ACEC expressed support for replacing the HRTTIM and its 0-9 
ratings classification with the TOMIE Manual.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA agrees with the comment and believes 
that the element level inspection procedure and condition state rating 
system of the TOMIE Manual will better serve the purposes of ensuring 
safety and adequate asset management.
    The Washington DOT suggested incorporating the AASHTO Movable 
Bridge Inspection, Evaluation and Maintenance Manual by reference for 
functional system inspection criteria and protocol.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA declines the suggestion to include the 
AASHTO Movable Bridge Inspection, Evaluation and Maintenance Manual as 
an incorporated reference. The FHWA believes the TOMIE Manual will 
sufficiently provide the guidance needed for the inspection of 
functional systems. However, in the absence of guidance elsewhere from 
FHWA, FHWA does encourage owners to use the AASHTO manual when it can 
provide valuable advice to the development of inspection criteria and 
protocols.

650.519 Additional Materials

    The FHWA removed Sec.  650.519 which recommended additional 
materials that States should consult when establishing their tunnel 
inspection programs. The FHWA feels that this material would be more 
appropriate for inclusion in a supplementary guidance document to 
accompany this final rule.

General Comments on the Regulation

    California DOT commented that many of the requirements of this 
proposed rule exceed those listed in the NBIS. California DOT also 
noted that FHWA used the term ``data'' as an impetus for performing 
tunnel inspections to maintain safe operations and to prevent 
structural, geotechnical, and functional system failures. Finally, 
California DOT questioned whether a management system to collect data 
is needed for owners to make informed investment decisions when the 
NTIS will cover less than 60 structures in California.
    The FHWA Response: Some of the provisions of the final rule exceed 
similar provisions in the current NBIS. In some instances this is due 
to the complexity of tunnels compared to bridges. In other instances, 
the differences result from FHWA's years of experience in implementing 
the NBIS. The collection of inspection data through a comprehensive and 
consistent methodology has ensured the successful operation of bridges 
under NBIS. The NTIS looks to duplicate that success. Finally, although 
FHWA believes it is prudent to manage every public investment as 
effectively as possible, the regulation does not require any State to 
have a management system in place for the inspection data, only that it 
collect and maintain that data and submit it to FHWA regularly or as 
requested.
    Tennessee DOT suggested that tunnel inspections are needed to 
ensure the safety of the motoring public and recommended an allowance 
of their Federal-aid safety funds be used to implement this NTIS 
program. An anonymous commenter also suggested that a dedicated source 
of funding be made available to the States to cover the

[[Page 41364]]

cost of inspection of their tunnel inventory.
    The FHWA Response: Under MAP-21, the inspection of tunnels on the 
NHS and the training of tunnel inspectors are eligible activities under 
the National Highway Performance Program. (23 U.S.C. 119(d)(2)(D) and 
(E)). In addition, the inspection of tunnels, regardless of the highway 
system or functional classification they are on, and the training of 
tunnel inspectors are eligible activities under the Surface 
Transportation Program. (23 U.S.C. 133(b)(4)).
    The MdTA and Pennsylvania DOT expressed concern with security if 
the data collected by FHWA is made publicly available.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA agrees with the comment that the 
security of our Nation's tunnels is of the utmost importance. However, 
FHWA believes that the data being gathered for the NTI will be general 
enough as not to pose any security concern.
    John Williams recommended that the final rule include a requirement 
that all immersed tube tunnels must have a Fixed Fire Fighting System 
(FFFS).
    The FHWA Response: The FFFS is generally considered a best practice 
and although FHWA promotes it for new construction and rehabilitation 
if the existing structure can accommodate the demands of the 
technology, including design criteria as part of this regulation is not 
pragmatic. Design criteria generally advance as systems mature and new 
technologies are developed. Mandating criteria in regulation could 
impede maturation and discourage development of improved techniques.
    Pennsylvania DOT requested FHWA flexibility in the implementation 
of NTIS.
    The FHWA Response: The NTIS was first proposed in 2008. The FHWA 
has encouraged owners to continue to follow the progress of the 
rulemaking and prepare for implementation. However, FHWA understands 
the challenges that the implementation of NTIS poses for many tunnel 
owners. The FHWA is committed to working with its partners in the State 
DOTs to bring them into compliance with the regulation in a reasonable 
and appropriate manner.

Incorporation by Reference

    In Sec.  650.517, FHWA incorporates by reference a number of items. 
First, FHWA incorporates the ``Tunnel Operations, Maintenance, 
Inspection and Evaluation (TOMIE) Manual,'' 2015 edition, U.S. 
Department of Transportation, FHWA-HIF-15-005. The TOMIE Manual 
provides guidance to tunnel owners on operations, maintenance, 
inspection and evaluation practices. The TOMIE Manual is available at 
no charge on the FHWA Web site at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/tunnel/. Incorporation by reference of the TOMIE Manual is approved for 
Sec. Sec.  650.505, 650.511(a), 650.513(a), and 650.513(h).
    The FHWA also incorporates by reference the ``Specifications for 
National Tunnel Inventory,'' 2015 edition, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, FHWA-HIF-15-006. The Specifications for the NTI 
supplements the NTIS and provides the specifications for coding data to 
be submitted to the National Tunnel Inventory. The Specifications is 
available at no charge on the FHWA Web site at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/inspection/tunnel/. Incorporation by reference 
of the Specifications is approved for Sec. Sec.  650.515(a) and 
650.515(b).
    Lastly, FHWA incorporates Sections 6 and 8 of the American 
Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials ``Manual of 
Bridge Evaluation'', with 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015 interim revisions. 
The Manual was developed to assist bridge owners by establishing 
inspection procedures and evaluation practices that meet the National 
Bridge Inspection Standards. The manual is divided into eight Sections, 
with each Section representing a distinct phase of an overall bridge 
inspection and evaluation program. The Manual is available for purchase 
from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation 
Officials, Suite 249, 444 N. Capitol Street NW., Washington, DC 20001. 
It may also be ordered via the AASHTO bookstore located at the 
following Web site: https://bookstore.transportation.org. The FHWA 
believes that the entities affected by this regulation, namely tunnel 
owners, already own a copy of this AASHTO Manual. Incorporation by 
reference of the Manual is approved for Sec. Sec.  650.505 and 
650.513(a).
    A copy of all of the incorporated documents outlined above will be 
on file and available for inspection at the National Archives and 
Records Administration. These documents will also be available for 
viewing at the Department of Transportation Library.

Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review), Executive Order 
13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review), and DOT Regulatory 
Policies and Procedures

    The FHWA has determined that this final rule constitutes a 
significant regulatory action within the meaning of Executive Order 
12866 and DOT regulatory policies and procedures. This action complies 
with Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 to improve regulation. This 
action is considered significant because of widespread public interest 
in the safety of highway tunnels. It is not economically significant 
within the meaning of Executive Order 12866.
    Having received relatively few comments from the ANPRM regarding 
costs and being mindful of the potential cost implications of the 
proposed rule, FHWA renewed its request for information regarding 
estimated or actual costs associated with tunnel inspections, 
particularly the typical inspection costs per linear foot of tunnel. In 
addition, FHWA requested comments regarding the anticipated increased 
costs the proposed NTIS would impose on tunnel owners. Only Washington 
State DOT commented on the cost of tunnel inspections in response to 
the NPRM. Washington State DOT stated that the budget for the recently 
completed mechanical and electrical inspection of the MLK Lid and Mount 
Baker Ridge Tunnel was $409,500 for the consultants alone. Washington 
State DOT was negotiating a scope of work and cost estimate for similar 
inspections of the Mercer Island Tunnel and the Convention Center. 
While FHWA appreciates such information, it is unclear what the scope 
of the work and inspection for this particular tunnel would be. Without 
further information on the length of the tunnel, the complexity of the 
design, and the number and type of functional systems, it is difficult 
to determine if the numbers provided by Washington State DOT fall 
within the anticipated cost range outlined below.
    In the SNPRM, FHWA again requested comments on the potential costs 
and benefits of the proposed NTIS. The comments received and our 
responses are summarized below.
    California DOT commented that there is no basis to conclude that 
the effects of the final rule on tunnel inspection cost are expected to 
be modest. They note that each State will have to invest significant 
resources to establish a tunnel inspection program. California DOT 
commented further that NTIS is duplicative of NBIS and will require 
additional program costs, including inspection software development and 
training, creation and support of a database for tunnels, a quality 
control and quality assurance program, compliance reviews, reporting, 
and corrective plans for tunnels.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA's basis for its cost-effectiveness 
statement is that a large majority of the tunnel

[[Page 41365]]

owners that responded to our 2003 survey reported that they are already 
inspecting tunnels at the 24-month interval required by the NTIS, 
collecting data in a data management program, and have an oversight 
program in place. The FHWA does believe there will be additional 
startup costs for implementation of NTIS, but those costs will be 
modest relative to the costs already incurred. Also, because NBIS does 
not include a requirement to inspect tunnels, does not provide 
procedures for inspecting tunnels, and does not identify the 
qualifications needed for tunnel inspectors, FHWA disagrees that the 
NTIS would be duplicative of the NBIS.
    Virginia DOT commented that FHWA's conclusions regarding reported 
costs of inspections are based on a very low inspector hourly rate and 
recommended using $32.50 per hour. Virginia DOT further commented that 
it believes the cost of inspecting a tunnel is more than the proposed 
upper limit of $75.00/linear foot.
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA appreciates the cost information and 
has increased the estimated hourly labor cost to $32 per hour. In 
addition, the upper limit of the range of inspection costs has been 
increased to $106 per linear foot.
    Oregon DOT indicated that the cost to inspect one 2-lane tunnel 
each of the last 5 years was $50,000 and that if inspections are 
required every 2 years then Oregon DOT's costs will increase fivefold.
    The FHWA Response: Oregon DOT responded to the 2003 FHWA survey 
that they were performing tunnel inspections at a 24-month interval. 
Unless that has significantly changed, it is unclear why costs would 
increase fivefold due to the implementation of NTIS.
    The AASHTO submitted the following cost information: ``In 
Pennsylvania, the 3500-foot, four-lane Ft. Pitt Tunnel was inspected in 
2006. The consultant used 1550 man-hours for a cost of $270,000 or 
$77.11 per LF [linear foot]. The four-lane Squirrel Hill Tunnel in 
Pennsylvania was inspected 2 years ago in 2330 man-hours for $300,000 
or $71 per LF. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation estimates 
a typical tunnel inspection costs approximately $30.64 per LF of tunnel 
(Ted Williams Tunnel). Also in Massachusetts, inspection of the complex 
Tip O'Neill Tunnel (I-93 NB) is estimated at $106.23 per LF of tunnel. 
AASHTO further indicated that these costs and estimates do not include 
the cost of traffic control or police services.''
    The FHWA Response: The FHWA is very appreciative for the cost 
information and has increased the upper end of the range of inspection 
costs to accommodate this new data. The range of inspection costs is 
now estimated to be from $5 to $106 per linear foot.
    The MTABT commented that the FHWA's conclusions regarding reported 
costs of inspection are underestimated and based on limited survey 
data. They recommended ``a more pragmatic approach such as increasing 
the inspection interval and/or reducing inspection intensity.''
    The FHWA Response: Based on comments received on the SNPRM, FHWA 
has increased the upper end of the range of inspection costs. In 
addition, the estimated hourly labor cost was increased to $32 per 
hour.

Current Cost of Tunnel Inspections

    The FHWA lacks sufficient data on current tunnel inspection 
practices to accurately estimate the costs that will be incurred by 
tunnel owners as a result of the standards established in this final 
rule. The lack of knowledge concerning current tunnel inspection 
practices makes it difficult to accurately specify a baseline for this 
economic analysis. The below cost estimates are based on the limited 
data that was received from an informal 2003 survey of tunnel owners 
and the small number of comments that contained cost information. The 
2003 survey was designed to collect information about the tunnel 
inventory, maintenance practices, inspection practices, and tunnel 
management practices of each State.\16\ Of the 45 highway tunnel owners 
surveyed, 40 responses were received. Five of the tunnel owners 
surveyed did not respond. The survey results suggest that there are 
approximately 350 highway tunnels (bores) in the Nation and they are 
currently inspected by their owners at intervals ranging from 1 day to 
10 years. These tunnels represent nearly 100 miles--running the 
distance of approximately 517,000 linear feet--of Interstate, State, 
and local routes. Tunnel inspection costs can vary greatly from tunnel 
to tunnel. The average inspection interval for the 37 responses that 
included data on this measure was a little over 24 months (2.05 years). 
Comments to the ANPRM, NPRM, and SNPRM suggested that current 
inspection costs range from $5 to $106 per linear foot depending on the 
complexity of the tunnel. Assuming that each highway tunnel includes 4 
lanes, FHWA estimates that the total current inspection cost for all 
tunnel owners could range between $10,340,000 (4 lanes x 517,000 x $5) 
and $219,208,000 (4 lanes x 517,000 x $106), or $29,542 ($10,340,000/
350) and $626,309 ($219,208,000/350) per tunnel bore. These figures 
reflect current inspection costs and do not include the additional 
costs anticipated with this rulemaking.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \16\ A copy of the FHWA's 2003 Survey is available on the 
docket.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Costs Effects of the NTIS

    Based on data from the 2003 survey, and subsequent communications 
the agency had with the 2 tunnel owners, only (MTABT and Virginia DOT), 
that together own 15 tunnel bores, would be required to increase 
inspection frequency as a result of this action.\17\ These 2 tunnel 
owners have inspection intervals that are longer than the proposed 24 
months and would therefore experience an increase in costs. Using the 
estimated inspection cost range for a single tunnel bore above ($29,542 
to $626,309), we can estimate the total aggregate cost increase for the 
2 tunnel owners.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \17\ In July 2012, Virginia DOT entered into a 58-year 
concession with Elizabeth River Crossings for the Downtown and 
Midtown tunnels in southern Virginia. The concession agreement 
requires Elizabeth River Crossings to meet or exceed Virginia DOT's 
standards for tunnel inspections, including frequency.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Owner A currently inspects 4 tunnel bores at a 10-year interval. We 
estimate the current annual inspection costs for Owner A are between 
$2,954.2 ($29,542/10) and $62,630.9 ($626,309/10) per tunnel bore. 
Under the rule, we estimate the annual inspection costs for Owner A 
will be between $14,771 ($29,542/2) and $313,155 ($626,309/2) per 
tunnel bore. As a result, Owner A would see an estimated annual cost 
increase of between $11,817 ($14,771 -$2,954.2) and $250,524 ($313,155 
-$62,630.9) per tunnel bore. For all 4 tunnel bores we estimate the 
current annual inspection costs are between $11,817 (4 x $2,954.2) and 
$250,524 (4 x $62,630.9). Under the rule, we estimate the annual 
inspection costs for all 4 tunnel bores will be between $59,084 (4 x 
$14,771) and $1,252,620 (4 x $313,155). As a result, Owner A would see 
an estimated total cost increase of between $47,267 ($59,084 -$11,817) 
and $1,002,096 ($1,252,620 -$250,524).
    Owner B currently inspects 11 tunnel bores at a 7-year interval. We 
estimate the current annual inspection costs for Owner B are between 
$4,220.3 ($29,542/7) and $89,473 ($626,309/7) per tunnel bore. Under 
the proposed rule, we estimate the annual inspection costs for Owner B 
will be between $14,771 ($29,542/2) and $313,155 ($626,309/2)

[[Page 41366]]

per tunnel bore. As a result, Owner B would see an estimated annual 
cost increase of between $10,551 ($14,771 -$4,220) and $223,682 
($313,155-$89,473) per tunnel bore. For all 11 tunnel bores we estimate 
the current annual inspection costs are between $46,423 (11 x $4,220.3) 
and $984,203 (11 x $89,473). Under the rule, we estimate the annual 
inspection costs for all 11 tunnel bores will be between $162,481 (11 x 
$14,771) and $3,444,705 (11 x $313,155). As a result, Owner B would see 
an estimated total cost increase of between $116,058 ($162,481-$46,420) 
and $2,460,502 ($3,444,705-$984,203).
    Based on the above analysis, FHWA estimates the current aggregate 
annual cost of tunnel inspections for the 2 affected tunnel owners is 
between $58,240 ($11,817 + $46,423) and $1,234,727 ($250,524 + 
$984,203). Under the inspection interval required by the rule, we 
estimate the aggregate annual cost will be between $221,565 (59,084 + 
$162,481) and $4,697,325 ($1,252,620 + $3,444,705). As a result, FHWA 
estimates the aggregate annual cost increase of inspections for the 2 
affected tunnel owners will be between $163,325 ($221,565-$58,240) and 
$3,462,598 ($4,697,325-$1,234,727). The discounted costs over 20 years 
(at 7 percent) are between $1.73 million and $36.683 million.
    The FHWA notes that each tunnel owner must collect and submit 
inventory data information for all tunnels subject to this rule within 
120 days of the effective date and when requested by FHWA. The total 
estimated cost to collect, manage, and report preliminary inventory 
data is $89,856 (2,808 hours x $32/hour = $89,856). This is a one-time 
cost for the two affected tunnel owners. As a result, FHWA estimates 
the total aggregate first year cost increase of inspections for the 2 
affected tunnel owners will be between $253,181 ($163,325 + $89,856) 
and $3,552,454 ($3,462,598 + $89,856). Over 20 years the discounted 
total would be between $1.82 million and $36.773 million.
    The FHWA expects that the overall increase in costs of inspecting 
tunnels would be modest, as the vast majority of tunnel owners already 
inspect at the 24-month interval proposed by the NTIS. However, FHWA 
does not have sufficient information regarding the cost increase from 
other provisions of the final rule, such as fixing critical defects and 
closing tunnels and roads in order to conduct the inspections. The FHWA 
recognizes that the 2003 survey does not represent the full universe of 
tunnel owners and tunnels, but believes that it is comprehensive enough 
to draw preliminary conclusions on the cost effects of this final rule. 
The FHWA also assumes that any increase in the cost per inspection 
resulting from the final rule would not cause the cost per inspection 
to exceed the upper end of the range of inspection costs in the 
analysis.
    In addition to the costs associated with more frequent inspections, 
FHWA expects that tunnel owners may experience a modest increase in 
costs as a result of the training requirements contained in the final 
rule. Based on the training of bridge inspectors under the NBIS, we 
estimate that the cost to train a tunnel inspector will be 
approximately $3,000 over a 10-year period (1 basic class and 2 
refresher classes).

Benefits Resulting From the NTIS

    Upon implementation, FHWA expects that this final rule would result 
in some significant benefits that are not easily quantifiable, but 
nonetheless deserve mention in this analysis. Timely and reliable 
tunnel inspection is likely to uncover safety problems and prevent 
failures. The structural, geotechnical, and functional components and 
systems that make up tunnels deteriorate and corrode due to the harsh 
environment in which these structures are operated. As a result, 
routine and thorough inspection of these elements is necessary to 
collect the data needed to maintain safe tunnel operation and to 
prevent structural, geotechnical, and functional failures. As our 
Nation's tunnels continue to age, an accurate and thorough assessment 
of each tunnel's condition is critical to avoid a decline in service 
and maintain a safe, functional, and reliable highway system. The 
agency is taking this action to respond to the statutory directive in 
MAP-21 and because it believes that ensuring timely and reliable 
inspections of highway tunnels will result in substantial benefits by 
enhancing the safety of the traveling public and protecting investments 
in key infrastructure. We believe that repairs or changes resulting 
from the inspections could lead to substantial economic savings.
    Currently, State DOTs differ from State to State in the way they 
inspect their tunnels. The methods are inconsistent and these 
differences hinder accurate analysis of tunnel conditions at the 
national level. This final rule would establish uniform inspection 
practices. The final rule will also yield greater accountability 
because the mandated reporting would increase visibility and 
transparency by providing the public with a more transparent view of 
the number and condition of the nation's tunnels. These benefits 
resulting from the final rule (i.e., uniformity and greater 
accountability) would lead to improved tunnel conditions.
    This final rule will also allow for more informed decisionmaking on 
tunnel condition-related project, program, and policy choices. The 
tunnel inventory data will allow FHWA to track and identify any 
patterns of tunnel deficiencies and facilitate repairs by States to 
ensure the safety of the public. Tunnel owners will also be able to 
integrate tunnel inventory data into an asset management program for 
maintenance and repairs of their tunnels. The data collection 
requirements in the NTIS are consistent with the performance-based 
approach to carrying out the Federal-aid highway program established by 
Congress in MAP-21. These requirements will fulfill the congressional 
directive to establish a data-driven, risk-based approach for the 
maintenance, replacement, and rehabilitation of highway tunnels. Such 
an approach will help to ensure the efficient and effective use of 
Federal resources.
    The NTIS could protect investments in key infrastructure, as early 
detection of problems in tunnels could increase the longevity of these 
assets and avoid more costly rehabilitation and repair actions. It is 
generally accepted in the transportation structures community that 
inspection and maintenance are effective forms of avoiding substantial 
future costs. For example, a 2005 University of Minnesota study 
examined the benefits of pavement preservation and preventative 
maintenance and found that pavement preservation had many benefits, the 
most important of which is preserving a pavement's structural integrity 
and realizing a substantial maintenance cost-savings over the life of 
the pavement. The study found that it is much less expensive to repair 
a pavement when distresses are just beginning to appear. More 
specifically, the study concluded that, at a minimum, the costs of 
maintaining a runway were half those of not maintaining a runway when 
measured over the life of the asset.\18\ However, the study's 
conclusions only considered the direct costs of

[[Page 41367]]

maintenance and construction and not the indirect costs associated with 
the mobility of the traveling public, goods, services, and freight. As 
tunnels provide mobility, which is vital to local, regional, and 
national economies, and to our national defense, it is imperative that 
these facilities are properly inspected and maintained to avoid the 
direct costs of rehabilitation and the indirect costs to users.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \18\ ``Pavement preservation: protecting your airport's biggest 
investment,'' AirTAP Briefings, Airport Technical Assistance Program 
of the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of 
Minnesota, summer 2005. An electronic version is located at: http://www.airtap.umn.edu/publications/briefings/2005/Briefings-2005-Summer.pdf
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The above description of tunnel inspection benefits were summarized 
from the limited benefit data submitted by tunnel owners in response to 
the NPRM and compiled by FHWA.

Summary

    The FHWA does not have sufficient information to estimate total 
costs and benefits of this final rule (e.g. any change in how a state 
inspects a tunnel). However, the FHWA's preliminary estimates regarding 
the inspection portion (excludes training) of the rulemaking are 
between $1.82 million and $36.773 million over 20 years (discounted at 
7 percent).

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (Pub. L. 96-354, 5 
U.S.C. 601-612), FHWA has evaluated the effects of this final rule on 
small entities and anticipates that this action will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
Because the regulations are primarily intended for States and Federal 
agencies, FHWA has determined that the action will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
States and Federal agencies are not included in the definition of small 
entity set forth in 5 U.S.C. 601. Therefore, the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act does not apply, and FHWA certifies that the action will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    The FHWA has determined that this final rule will not impose 
unfunded mandates as defined by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 
1995 (Pub. L. 104-4, March 22, 1995, 109 Stat. 48). The NTIS is needed 
to ensure safety for the users of the Nation's tunnels and to help 
protect Federal infrastructure investment. As discussed above, FHWA 
finds that this regulatory action will not result in the expenditure by 
State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the 
private sector, of $143,100,000 or more in any one year (2 U.S.C. 
1532). Additionally, the definition of ``Federal mandate'' in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act excludes financial assistance of the type 
in which State, local, or tribal governments have authority to adjust 
their participation in the program in accordance with changes made in 
the program by the Federal Government. The Federal-aid highway program 
permits this type of flexibility.

Executive Order 13132 (Federalism Assessment)

    The FHWA has analyzed this final rule in accordance with the 
principles and criteria contained in Executive Order 13132. The FHWA 
has determined that a federalism summary impact statement is not 
required because this regulation is required by statute and will not 
preempt any State law.

Executive Order 12372 (Intergovernmental Review)

    The regulations implementing Executive Order 12372 regarding 
intergovernmental consultation on Federal programs and activities apply 
to this program. Local entities should refer to the Catalog of Federal 
Domestic Assistance Program Number 20.205, Highway Planning and 
Construction, for further information.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501, et 
seq.), Federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) for each collection of information they 
conduct, sponsor, or require through regulations. This action contains 
a collection of information requirement under the PRA. This information 
collection requirement has been previously submitted to OMB for 
approval, pursuant to the provisions of the PRA. The requirement has 
been approved through May 31, 2017; OMB Control No. 2125-0640.
    The MAP-21 requires the Secretary to inventory all tunnels on 
public roads, on and off Federal-aid highways, including tribally owned 
and federally owned tunnels. In addition, each State, Federal agency, 
and tribal government is required to report to the Secretary on: the 
results of tunnel inspections and notation of any action taken pursuant 
to the findings of the inspections, and current inventory data for all 
highway tunnels reflecting the findings of the most recent tunnel 
inspection. In order to be responsive to the requirements of MAP-21 and 
in accordance with this final rule, FHWA will collect data to establish 
an NTI and require the submission of data on the results of tunnel 
inspections. A description of the collection requirements, the 
respondents, and an estimate of the annual reporting burden are set 
forth below.

National Tunnel Inventory Collection

    The FHWA will collect data to establish an NTI. Initially a subset 
of the Inventory Items defined in the Specifications of the National 
Tunnel Inventory will be collected. This information will be reported 
to FHWA on the Preliminary Tunnel Inventory Data Form which is 
available on the FHWA Web site at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/inspection/tunnel/.
    The following is the data that will be collected under the NTI on 
the Preliminary Tunnel Inventory Data Form:
    (1) Identification Items: Tunnel number, tunnel name, State code, 
county code, place code, highway agency district, route number, route 
direction, route type, facility carried, linear referencing system 
(LRS) inventory route number, LRS mile point, tunnel portal's latitude, 
tunnel portal's longitude, border tunnel State or county code, border 
tunnel financial responsibility, border tunnel number, and border 
tunnel inspection responsibility.
    (2) Age and Service Items: Year built, year rehabilitated, total 
number of lanes, average daily traffic, average daily truck traffic, 
year of average daily traffic, detour length, and service in tunnel.
    (3) Classification Items: Owner, operator, direction of traffic, 
toll, NHS designation, STRAHNET designation, and functional 
classification.
    (4) Geometric Data Items: Tunnel length, minimum clearance over 
tunnel roadway, roadway curb-to-curb width, and left curb and right 
curb widths.
    (5) Structure Type and Material Items: Number of bores, tunnel 
shape, portal shape, ground conditions, and complexity.
    The anticipated respondents include the 50 States, the District of 
Columbia, Puerto Rico, and any Federal agencies and tribal governments 
that own tunnels. The estimated burden on the States to collect, 
manage, and report this data is estimated to be 8 hours per tunnel for 
a total estimate of 2,808 hours for all 350 estimated tunnels in the 
Nation. This represents an average of 54 hours per respondent and so it 
is estimated that the burden will total 2,808 hours per year (52 
responses x 54.00 hours per respondent = 2,808 hours).

Annual Inspection Reporting

    In addition to the preliminary inventory information described 
above, tunnel owners are required to report to

[[Page 41368]]

the Secretary on the results of tunnel inspections and notations of any 
action taken pursuant to the findings of the inspections. For all 
inspections, tunnel owners will be required to enter the appropriate 
inspection data into the State DOT, Federal agency, or tribal 
government inventory within 3 months of the completion of the 
inspection. The number of responses per year is based on the total of 
350 tunnels in the U.S., with approximately half inspected each year, 
based on the standard 24-month inspection interval. The annual 
responses are estimated at 175 for routine inspections. With the 
average time of 40 hours to collect, manage, and report routine 
inspection data, and an additional 2,080 hours to follow up on critical 
findings, it is estimated that the burden hours will total 9,080 hours 
per year (7,000 hours (175 responses x 40.00 hours per response) + 
2,080 hours (for follow-up on critical findings) = 9,080 burden hours).

Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours

    The FHWA estimates that the collection of information contained in 
this final rule will result in approximately 11,888 total annual burden 
hours (2,808 hours (preliminary inventory collection) + 9,080 (annual 
inspections) = 11,888 (total annual burden hours)). Since the majority 
of States are already inspecting their tunnels, they are likely to have 
much of the data needed to satisfy the preliminary inventory data 
collection burden. Likewise, since many States are already collecting 
and storing inspection data, they are likely to have much of the data 
needed to satisfy the routine inspection burden. As a result, FHWA 
expects that the additional burden on the States to report this data 
will be minimal.
    A notice seeking public comments on the collection of information 
included in this final rule was published in the Federal Register on 
June 14, 2010, at 75 FR 33659. The FHWA received comments from four 
commenters, including one organization (AASHTO) and three State DOTs 
(New York, Oregon, and Virginia). These comments were addressed in the 
SNPRM.
    In the SNPRM, FHWA renewed its request for comments on the 
collection of information. No additional comments on the information 
collection were received.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The Department has analyzed this action for the purpose of the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 
et seq.), and has determined that this action would not have a 
significant effect on the quality of the environment and qualifies for 
the categorical exclusion at 23 CFR 771.117(c)(20).

Executive Order 12630 (Taking of Private Property)

    This action will not affect a taking of private property or 
otherwise have taking implications under Executive Order 12630, 
Governmental Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected 
Property Rights.

Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform)

    This action meets applicable standards in section 3(a) and 3(b)(2) 
of Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform, to minimize litigation, 
eliminate ambiguity, and reduce burden.

Executive Order 13045 (Protection of Children)

    The FHWA has analyzed this action under Executive Order 13045, 
Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety 
Risks. This rule does not concern an environmental risk to health or 
safety that may disproportionately affect children.

Executive Order 13175 (Tribal Consultation)

    The FHWA has conducted a preliminary analysis of this action under 
Executive Order 13175. The FHWA believes that this final rule will not 
have substantial direct effects on one or more Indian Tribes, will not 
impose substantial direct compliance costs on Indian tribal 
governments, and will not preempt tribal law. To FHWA's knowledge, 
there are no tunnels that are owned, operated, or maintained by Indian 
tribal governments. In addition, no comments were received from Indian 
tribal governments in response to the SNPRM.

Executive Order 13211 (Energy Effects)

    The FHWA has analyzed this final rule under Executive Order 13211, 
Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, 
Distribution, or Use. The FHWA has determined that the rule will not 
constitute a significant energy action under that order because, 
although it is considered a significant regulatory action under 
Executive Order 12866, it is not likely to have a significant adverse 
effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy.

Executive Order 12898 (Environmental Justice)

    Executive Order 12898 requires that each Federal agency make 
achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and 
addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human 
health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and 
activities on minorities and low-income populations. The FHWA has 
determined that this rule does not raise any environmental justice 
issues.

Regulation Identifier Number

    A regulation identifier number (RIN) is assigned to each regulatory 
action listed in the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations. The 
Regulatory Information Service Center publishes the Unified Agenda in 
April and October of each year. The RIN contained in the heading of 
this document can be used to cross reference this action with the 
Unified Agenda.

List of Subjects in 23 CFR Part 650

    Bridges, Grant programs--transportation, Highways and roads, 
Incorporation by reference, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on July 2, 2015, under authority 
delegated in 49 CFR 1.85(a)(1):
Gregory G. Nadeau,
Acting Administrator, Federal Highway Administration.
    In consideration of the foregoing, the FHWA amends title 23, Code 
of Federal Regulations, part 650, as set forth below:

PART 650--BRIDGES, STRUCTURES, AND HYDRAULICS

0
1. The authority citation for part 650 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority: 23 U.S.C. 119, 144, and 315.


0
2. Add subpart E to read as follows:
Subpart E--National Tunnel Inspection Standards
Sec.
650.501 Purpose.
650.503 Applicability.
650.505 Definitions.
650.507 Tunnel inspection organization responsibilities.
650.509 Qualifications of personnel.
650.511 Inspection interval.
650.513 Inspection procedures.
650.515 Inventory.
650.517 Incorporation by reference.

Subpart E--National Tunnel Inspection Standards


Sec.  650.501  Purpose.

    This subpart sets the national minimum standards for the proper

[[Page 41369]]

safety inspection and evaluation of all highway tunnels in accordance 
with 23 U.S.C. 144(h) and the requirements for preparing and 
maintaining an inventory in accordance with 23 U.S.C. 144(b).


Sec.  650.503  Applicability.

    The National Tunnel Inspection Standards (NTIS) in this subpart 
apply to all structures defined as highway tunnels on all public roads, 
on and off Federal-aid highways, including tribally and federally owned 
tunnels.


Sec.  650.505  Definitions.

    The following terms used in this subpart are defined as follows:
    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials 
(AASHTO) Manual for Bridge Evaluation. The term ``AASHTO Manual for 
Bridge Evaluation'' means the ``Manual for Bridge Evaluation'', 
incorporated by reference in Sec.  650.517.
    At-grade roadway. The term ``at-grade roadway'' means paved or 
unpaved travel ways within the tunnel that carry vehicular traffic and 
are not suspended or supported by a structural system.
    Bridge inspection experience. The term ``bridge inspection 
experience'' has the same meaning as in Sec.  650.305.
    Complex tunnel. The term ``complex tunnel'' means a tunnel 
characterized by advanced or unique structural elements or functional 
systems.
    Comprehensive tunnel inspection training. The term ``comprehensive 
tunnel inspection training'' means the FHWA-approved training that 
covers all aspects of tunnel inspection and enables inspectors to 
relate conditions observed in a tunnel to established criteria.
    Critical finding. The term ``critical finding'' has the same 
meaning as in Sec.  650.305.
    Damage inspection. The term ``damage inspection'' has the same 
meaning as in Sec.  650.305.
    End-of-course assessment. The term ``end-of-course assessment'' 
means a comprehensive examination given to students after the 
completion of a training course.
    Federal-aid highway. The term ``Federal-aid highway'' has the same 
meaning as in 23 U.S.C. 101(a)(5).
    Functional systems. The term ``functional systems'' means non-
structural systems, such as electrical, mechanical, fire suppression, 
ventilation, lighting, communications, monitoring, drainage, traffic 
signals, emergency response (including egress, refuge room spacing, or 
carbon monoxide detection), or traffic safety components.
    Hands-on inspection. The term ``hands-on inspection'' has the same 
meaning as in Sec.  650.305.
    Highway. The term ``highway'' has the same meaning as in 23 U.S.C. 
101(a)(11).
    In-depth inspection. The term ``in-depth inspection'' means a 
close-up inspection of one, several, or all tunnel structural elements 
or functional systems to identify any deficiencies not readily 
detectable using routine inspection procedures. In-depth inspections 
may occur more or less frequently than routine inspections, as outlined 
in the tunnel-specific inspection procedures.
    Initial inspection. The term ``initial inspection'' means the first 
inspection of a tunnel to provide all inventory, appraisal, and other 
data necessary to determine the baseline condition of the structural 
elements and functional systems.
    Inspection Date. The term ``Inspection Date'' means the date 
established by the Program Manager on which a regularly scheduled 
routine inspection begins for a tunnel.
    Legal load. The terms ``legal load means the maximum legal load for 
each vehicle configuration permitted by law for the State in which the 
tunnel is located.
    Load rating. The term ``load rating'' means the determination of 
the safe vehicular live load carrying capacity within or above the 
tunnel using structural plans, and information gathered from an 
inspection. The results of the load rating may include the need for 
load posting.
    Operating rating. The term ``operating rating'' has the same 
meaning as in Sec.  650.305.
    Portal. The term ``portal'' means the entrance and exit of the 
tunnel exposed to the environment; portals may include bare rock, 
constructed tunnel entrance structures, or buildings.
    Procedures. The term ``procedures'' means the written documentation 
of policies, methods, considerations, criteria, and other conditions 
that direct the actions of personnel so that a desired end result is 
achieved consistently.
    Professional Engineer (P.E.). The term ``Professional Engineer 
(P.E.)'' means an individual who has fulfilled education and experience 
requirements and passed examinations that, under State licensure laws, 
permits the individual to offer engineering services within areas of 
expertise directly to the public.
    Program Manager. The term ``Program Manager'' means the individual 
in charge of the inspection program who has been assigned or delegated 
the duties and responsibilities for tunnel inspection, reporting, and 
inventory. The Program Manager provides overall leadership and guidance 
to inspection Team Leaders and load raters.
    Public road. The term ``public road'' has the same meaning as in 23 
U.S.C. 101(a)(21).
    Quality assurance (QA). The term ``quality assurance (QA)'' means 
the use of sampling and other measures to ensure the adequacy of 
quality control procedures in order to verify or measure the quality of 
the entire tunnel inspection and load rating program.
    Quality control (QC). The term ``quality control (QC)'' means the 
procedures that are intended to maintain the quality of a tunnel 
inspection and load rating at or above a specified level.
    Routine inspection. The term ``routine inspection'' means a 
regularly scheduled comprehensive inspection encompassing all tunnel 
structural elements and functional systems and consisting of 
observations and measurements needed to determine the physical and 
functional condition of the tunnel, to identify any changes from 
initial or previously recorded conditions, and to ensure that tunnel 
components continue to satisfy present service requirements.
    Routine permit load. The term ``routine permit load'' means a 
vehicular load that has a gross weight, axle weight, or distance 
between axles not conforming with State laws for legally configured 
vehicles, and is authorized for unlimited trips over an extended period 
of time to move alongside other heavy vehicles on a regular basis.
    Special inspection. The term ``special inspection'' means an 
inspection, scheduled at the discretion of the tunnel owner, used to 
monitor a particular known or suspected deficiency.
    State transportation department (State DOT). The term ``State 
transportation department (State DOT)'' has the same meaning as in 23 
U.S.C. 101(a)(28).
    Team Leader. The term ``Team Leader'' means the on-site individual 
in charge of an inspection team responsible for planning, preparing, 
performing, and reporting on tunnel inspections.
    Tunnel. The term ``tunnel'' means an enclosed roadway for motor 
vehicle traffic with vehicle access limited to portals, regardless of 
type of structure or method of construction, that requires, based on 
the owner's determination, special design considerations that may 
include lighting, ventilation, fire protection systems, and emergency 
egress capacity. The terms ``tunnel'' does not include bridges or 
culverts inspected under the National Bridge

[[Page 41370]]

Inspection Standards (subpart C of this part).
    Tunnel inspection experience. The term ``tunnel inspection 
experience'' means active participation in the performance of tunnel 
inspections in accordance with the National Tunnel Inspection 
Standards, in either a field inspection, supervisory, or management 
role.
    Tunnel inspection refresher training. The term ``tunnel inspection 
refresher training'' means an FHWA-approved training course that aims 
to improve the quality of tunnel inspections, introduce new techniques, 
and maintain the consistency of the tunnel inspection program.
    Tunnel Operations, Maintenance, Inspection and Evaluation (TOMIE) 
Manual. The term ``Tunnel Operations, Maintenance, Inspection and 
Evaluation (TOMIE) Manual'' means the ``Tunnel Operations, Maintenance, 
Inspection and Evaluation (TOMIE) Manual'' (incorporated by reference, 
see Sec.  650.517).
    Tunnel-specific inspection procedures. The term ``tunnel-specific 
inspection procedures'' means the written documentation of the 
directions necessary to plan for, and conduct an inspection. Directions 
include coverage of inspection methods, frequency of each method, 
inspection equipment, access equipment, identification of tunnel 
elements, components and functional systems, traffic coordination, and 
specialized qualifications for inspecting personnel.


Sec.  650.507  Tunnel inspection organization responsibilities.

    (a) Each State DOT shall inspect, or cause to be inspected, all 
highway tunnels located on public roads, on and off Federal-aid 
highways, that are fully or partially located within the State's 
boundaries, except for tunnels that are owned by Federal agencies or 
tribal governments.
    (b) Each Federal agency shall inspect, or cause to be inspected, 
all highway tunnels located on public roads, on and off Federal-aid 
highways, that are fully or partially located within the respective 
agency's responsibility or jurisdiction.
    (c) Each tribal government shall inspect, or cause to be inspected, 
all highway tunnels located on public roads, on and off Federal-aid 
highways, that are fully or partially located within the respective 
tribal government's responsibility or jurisdiction.
    (d) Where a tunnel is jointly owned, all bordering States, Federal 
agencies, and tribal governments with ownership interests should 
determine through a joint formal written agreement the inspection 
responsibilities of each State, Federal agency, and tribal government.
    (e) Each State that contains one or more tunnels subject to these 
regulations, or Federal agency or tribal government with a tunnel under 
its jurisdiction, shall include a tunnel inspection organization that 
is responsible for all of the following:
    (1) Statewide, Federal agency-wide, or tribal government-wide 
tunnel inspection policies and procedures (both general and tunnel-
specific), quality control and quality assurance procedures, and 
preparation and maintenance of a tunnel inventory.
    (2) Tunnel inspections, written reports, load ratings, management 
of critical findings, and other requirements of these standards.
    (3) Maintaining a registry of nationally certified tunnel 
inspectors that work in their State or for their Federal agency or 
tribal government that includes, at a minimum, a method to positively 
identify each inspector, documentation that the inspector's training 
requirements are up-to-date, the inspector's current contact 
information, and detailed information about any adverse action that may 
affect the good standing of the inspector.
    (4) A process, developed under the direction of a Professional 
Engineer and approved by FHWA, to determine when an inspection Team 
Leader's qualifications must meet Sec.  650.509(b)(4) in order to 
adequately and appropriately lead an inspection of a complex tunnel or 
a tunnel with distinctive features or functions. At a minimum, the 
process shall consider a tunnel's type of construction, functional 
systems, history of performance, and physical and operational 
conditions.
    (f) A State DOT, Federal agency, or tribal government may delegate 
functions identified in paragraphs (e)(1), (2), and (3) of this section 
through a formal written agreement, but such delegation does not 
relieve the State DOT, Federal agency, or tribal government of any of 
its responsibilities under this subpart.
    (g) The State DOT, Federal agency, or tribal government tunnel 
inspection organization shall have a Program Manager with the 
qualifications listed in Sec.  650.509(a), who has been delegated 
responsibility for paragraphs (e)(1), (2), and (3) of this section.


Sec.  650.509  Qualifications of personnel.

    (a) A Program Manager shall, at a minimum:
    (1) Be a registered Professional Engineer, or have 10 years of 
tunnel or bridge inspection experience;
    (2) Be a nationally certified tunnel inspector;
    (3) Satisfy the requirements of paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) of this 
section by August 13, 2017; and
    (4) Be able to determine when a Team Leader's qualifications must 
meet the requirements of paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section in 
accordance with the FHWA approved process developed in accordance with 
Sec.  650.507(e)(4).
    (b) A Team Leader shall, at a minimum:
    (1) Meet at least one of the four qualifications listed in 
paragraphs (b)(1)(i) through (iv) of this section:
    (i) Be a registered professional engineer and have six months of 
tunnel or bridge inspection experience.
    (ii) Have 5 years of tunnel or bridge inspection experience.
    (iii) Have all of the following:
    (A) A bachelor's degree in engineering or engineering technology 
from a college or university accredited or determined as substantially 
equivalent by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
    (B) Successfully passed the National Council of Examiners for 
Engineering and Surveying Fundamentals of Engineering examination.
    (C) Two (2) years of tunnel or bridge inspection experience.
    (iv) Have all of the following:
    (A) An associate's degree in engineering or engineering technology 
from a college or university accredited or determined as substantially 
equivalent by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
    (B) Four years of tunnel or bridge inspection experience.
    (2) Be a nationally certified tunnel inspector.
    (3) Provide documentation supporting the satisfaction of paragraphs 
(b)(1) and (2) of this section to the Program Manager of each State 
DOT, Federal agency, or tribal government for which they are performing 
tunnel inspections.
    (4) Be a registered Professional Engineer and have six months of 
tunnel or bridge inspection experience if the Program Manager 
determines through the approved process developed under Sec.  
650.507(e)(4) that the tunnel being inspected is complex or has 
distinctive features or functions that warrant this level of 
qualifications.
    (c) Load ratings shall be performed by, or under the direct 
supervision of, a registered Professional Engineer.
    (d) Each State DOT, Federal agency, and tribal government shall 
determine inspection personnel qualifications for damage, cursory, and 
special inspections.
    (e) A nationally certified tunnel inspector shall:

[[Page 41371]]

    (1) Complete an FHWA-approved comprehensive tunnel inspection 
training course and score 70 percent or greater on an end-of-course 
assessment;
    (2) Complete a cumulative total of 18 hours of FHWA-approved tunnel 
inspection refresher training over each 60 month period; and
    (3) Maintain documentation supporting the satisfaction of 
paragraphs (e)(1) and (2) of this section, and, upon request, provide 
documentation of their training status and current contact information 
to the Tunnel Inspection Organization of each State DOT, Federal 
agency, or tribal government for which they will be performing tunnel 
inspections.
    (f) Acceptable tunnel inspection training includes the following:
    (1) National Highway Institute training. NHI courses on 
comprehensive tunnel inspection training.
    (2) FHWA approval of alternate training. A State DOT, Federal 
agency, or tribal government may submit to FHWA a training course as an 
alternative to the NHI course. The FHWA shall approve alternative 
course materials and end-of-course assessments for national consistency 
and certification purposes. The Program Manager shall review the 
approved alternative training course every 5 years to ensure the 
material is current. Updates to approved course materials and end-of-
course assessments shall be resubmitted to FHWA for approval.
    (g) In evaluating the tunnel inspection experience requirements 
under paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section, a combination of tunnel 
design, tunnel maintenance, tunnel construction, and tunnel inspection 
experience, with the predominant amount in tunnel inspection, is 
acceptable. Also, the following criteria should be considered:
    (1) The relevance of the individual's actual experience, including 
the extent to which the experience has enabled the individual to 
develop the skills needed to properly lead a tunnel safety inspection.
    (2) The individual's exposure to the problems or deficiencies 
common in the types of tunnels being inspected by the individual.
    (3) The individual's understanding of the specific data collection 
needs and requirements.


Sec.  650.511  Inspection interval.

    (a) Initial inspection. A State DOT, Federal agency, or tribal 
government tunnel inspection organization shall conduct, or cause to be 
conducted, an initial inspection for each tunnel described in Sec.  
650.503 as follows:
    (1) For existing tunnels, conduct a routine inspection of each 
tunnel according to the inspection guidance provided in the Tunnel 
Operations, Maintenance, Inspection and Evaluation (TOMIE) Manual 
(incorporated by reference, see Sec.  650.517) by August 13, 2017.
    (2) For tunnels completed after these regulations take effect, the 
initial routine inspection shall be conducted after all construction is 
completed and prior to opening to traffic, according to the inspection 
guidance provided in the Tunnel Operations, Maintenance, Inspection and 
Evaluation (TOMIE) Manual (incorporated by reference, see Sec.  
650.517).
    (b) Routine inspections. A State DOT, Federal agency, or tribal 
government tunnel inspection organization shall conduct, or cause to be 
conducted, routine inspections for each tunnel described in Sec.  
650.503 as follows:
    (1) Establish for each tunnel the NTIS routine Inspection Date in a 
month and year (MM/DD/YYYY) format. This date should only be modified 
by the Program Manager in rare circumstances.
    (2) Inspect each tunnel at regular 24-month intervals.
    (3) For tunnels needing inspection more frequently than 24-month 
intervals, establish criteria to determine the level and frequency to 
which these tunnels are inspected, based on a risk analysis approach 
that considers such factors as tunnel age, traffic characteristics, 
geotechnical conditions, and known deficiencies.
    (4) Certain tunnels may be inspected at regular intervals up to 48 
months. Inspecting a tunnel at an increased interval may be appropriate 
when past inspection findings and analysis justifies the increased 
inspection interval. At a minimum, the following criteria shall be used 
to determine the level and frequency of inspection based on an assessed 
lower risk: Tunnel age, time from last major rehabilitation, tunnel 
complexity, traffic characteristics, geotechnical conditions, 
functional systems, and known deficiencies. A written request that 
justifies a regular routine inspection interval between 24 and 48 
months shall be submitted to FHWA for review and comment prior to the 
extended interval being implemented.
    (5) Inspect each tunnel in accordance with the established 
interval. The acceptable tolerance for inspection interval is within 2 
months before or after the Inspection Date established in paragraph 
(b)(1) of this section in order to maintain that date. The actual 
month, day, and year of the inspection are to be reported in the 
National Tunnel Inventory.
    (c) Damage, in-depth, and special inspections. The Program Manager 
shall establish criteria to determine the level and frequency of 
damage, in-depth, and special inspections. Damage, in-depth, and 
special inspections may use non-destructive testing or other methods 
not used during routine inspections at an interval established by the 
Program Manager. In-depth inspections should be scheduled for complex 
tunnels and for certain structural elements and functional systems when 
necessary to fully ascertain the condition of the element or system; 
hands-on inspection may be necessary at some locations.


Sec.  650.513  Inspection procedures.

    Each State DOT, Federal agency, or tribal government tunnel 
inspection organization, to carry out its inspection responsibilities, 
shall perform or cause to be performed all of the following:
    (a) Inspect tunnel structural elements and functional systems in 
accordance with the inspection guidance provided in the Tunnel 
Operations, Maintenance, Inspection and Evaluation (TOMIE) Manual 
(incorporated by reference, see Sec.  650.517).
    (b) Provide at least one Team Leader, who meets the minimum 
qualifications stated in Sec.  650.509, at the tunnel at all times 
during each initial, routine, and in-depth inspection. The State DOT, 
Federal agency, or tribal government shall report the nationally 
certified tunnel inspector identification for each Team Leader that is 
wholly or partly responsible for a tunnel inspection must be reported 
to the National Tunnel Inventory.
    (c) Prepare and document tunnel-specific inspection procedures for 
each tunnel inspected and inventoried that shall:
    (1) Take into account the design assumptions and the tunnel 
complexity; and
    (2) Identify the--
    (i) Tunnel structural elements and functional systems to be 
inspected;
    (ii) Methods of inspection to be used;
    (iii) Frequency of inspection for each method; and
    (iv) Inspection equipment, access equipment, and traffic 
coordination needed.
    (d) Establish requirements for functional system testing, direct 
observation of critical system checks, and testing documentation.
    (e) For complex tunnels, identify specialized inspection procedures 
and additional inspector training and experience required to inspect 
complex tunnels. Inspect complex tunnels

[[Page 41372]]

according to the specialized inspection procedures.
    (f) Conduct tunnel inspections with qualified staff not associated 
with the operation or maintenance of the tunnel structure or functional 
systems.
    (g) Rate each tunnel's safe vehicular load-carrying capacity in 
accordance with the Sections 6 or 8, AASHTO Manual for Bridge 
Evaluation (incorporated by reference, see Sec.  650.517). A State DOT, 
Federal agency, or tribal government shall conduct a load rating 
evaluation as soon as practical, but not later than three months after 
the completion of the inspection, if a change in condition is 
identified. Post or restrict the highways in or over the tunnel in 
accordance with Section 6, AASHTO Manual for Bridge Evaluation 
(incorporated by reference, see Sec.  650.517), or in accordance with 
State law, when the maximum unrestricted legal loads or State routine 
permit loads exceed those allowed under the operating rating or 
equivalent rating factor. Postings shall be made as soon as possible 
but not later than 30 days after a valid load rating determines a need 
for such posting. At-grade roadways in tunnels are exempt from load 
rating. A State DOT, Federal agency, or tribal government, shall 
maintain load rating calculations or input files with a summary of 
results as a part of the tunnel record.
    (h) Prepare tunnel inspection documentation as described in the 
Tunnel Operations, Maintenance, Inspection and Evaluation (TOMIE) 
Manual (incorporated by reference, see Sec.  650.517), and maintain 
written reports or electronic files on the results of tunnel 
inspections, together with notations of any action taken to address the 
findings of such inspections. Maintain relevant maintenance and 
inspection data to allow assessment of current tunnel condition. At a 
minimum, information collected will include data regarding basic tunnel 
information (e.g., tunnel location, posted speed, inspection reports, 
repair recommendations, and repair and rehabilitation work completed), 
tunnel and roadway geometrics, interior tunnel structural features, 
portal structure features, and tunnel systems information. When 
available, tunnel data collected shall include diagrams, photos, 
condition of each structural and functional system component, notations 
of any action taken to address the findings of such inspections, and 
the national tunnel inspector certification registry identification for 
each Team Leader responsible in whole or in part for the inspection.
    (i) Use systematic quality control and quality assurance procedures 
to maintain a high degree of accuracy and consistency in the inspection 
program. Include periodic field review of inspection teams, data 
quality checks, and independent review of inspection reports and 
computations.
    (j) Establish a Statewide, Federal agency-wide, or tribal 
government-wide procedure to ensure that critical findings are 
addressed in a timely manner. Notify FHWA within 24 hours of any 
critical finding and the activities taken, underway, or planned to 
resolve or monitor the critical finding. Update FHWA regularly or as 
requested on the status of each critical finding until it is resolved. 
Annually provide a written report to FHWA with a summary of the current 
status of the resolutions for each critical finding identified within 
that year or unresolved from a previous year.
    (k) Provide information at least annually, or more frequently upon 
request, in cooperation with any FHWA review of State DOT, Federal 
agency, or tribal government compliance with the NTIS. The FHWA will 
assess annually State DOT compliance using statistical assessments and 
well-defined measures based on the requirements of this subpart.


Sec.  650.515  Inventory.

    (a) Preliminary inventory. Each State, Federal agency, or tribal 
government shall collect and submit the inventory data items described 
in the Specifications for the National Tunnel Inventory (incorporated 
by reference, see Sec.  650.517) for all tunnels subject to the NTIS by 
December 11, 2015.
    (b) National Tunnel Inventory. Each State, Federal agency, or 
tribal government shall prepare, maintain, and make available to FHWA 
upon request, an inventory of all highway tunnels subject to the NTIS 
that includes the preliminary inventory information submitted in 
paragraph (a) of this section, reflects the findings of the most recent 
tunnel inspection conducted, and is consistent and coordinated with the 
Specifications for the National Tunnel Inventory.
    (c) Data entry for inspections. For all inspections, each State 
DOT, Federal agency, or tribal government shall enter the appropriate 
tunnel inspection data into its inventory within 3 months after the 
completion of the inspection.
    (d) Data entry for tunnel modifications and new tunnels. For 
modifications to existing tunnels that alter previously recorded data 
and new tunnels, each State DOT, Federal agency, or tribal government 
shall enter the appropriate data into its inventory within 3 months 
after the completion of the work.
    (e) Data entry for tunnel load restriction and closure changes. For 
changes in traffic load restriction or closure status, each State DOT, 
Federal agency, or tribal government shall enter the data into its 
inventory within 3 months after the change in status of the tunnel.


Sec.  650.517  Incorporation by reference.

    (a) Certain material is incorporated by reference into this part 
with the approval of the Director of the Federal Register under 5 
U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51. To enforce any edition other than that 
specified in this section, the FHWA must publish notice of change in 
the Federal Register and the material must be available to the public. 
All approved material is available for inspection at 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590. For questions regarding the 
availability of this material at FHWA, call the FHWA Regulations 
Officer, Office of the Chief Counsel, HCC-10, 202-366-0761. This 
material is also available for inspection at the National Archives and 
Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of 
this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030 or go to http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_of_federal_regulations/ibr_locations.html.
    (b) American Association of State Highway and Transportation 
Officials (AASHTO), Suite 249, 444 N. Capitol Street NW., Washington, 
DC 20001, 800-231-3475, https://bookstore.transportation.org.
    (1) ``The Manual of Bridge Evaluation,'' Section 6 ``Load Rating'' 
and Section 8 ``Nondestructive Load Testing,'' Second Edition, 2011, 
copyright 2011, incorporation by reference approved for Sec. Sec.  
650.505 and 650.513(a).
    (2) 2011 Interim Revisions to ``The Manual of Bridge Evaluation,'' 
Section 6 ``Load Rating,'' Second Edition, 2010, copyright 2011, 
incorporation by reference approved for Sec. Sec.  650.505 and 
650.513(a).
    (3) 2013 Interim Revisions to ``The Manual of Bridge Evaluation,'' 
Section 6 ``Load Rating,'' Second Edition, 2010, copyright 2013, 
incorporation by reference approved for Sec. Sec.  650.505 and 
650.513(a).
    (4) 2014 Interim Revisions to ``The Manual of Bridge Evaluation,'' 
Section 6 ``Load Rating,'' Second Edition, 2010, copyright 2013, 
incorporation by reference approved for Sec. Sec.  650.505 and 
650.513(a).
    (5) 2015 Interim Revisions to ``The Manual of Bridge Evaluation,'' 
Section 6

[[Page 41373]]

``Load Rating,'' Second Edition, 2010, copyright 2014, incorporation by 
reference approved for Sec. Sec.  650.505 and 650.513(a).
    (c) Office of Bridges and Structures, Federal Highway 
Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.
    (1) FHWA-HIF-15-005, ``Tunnel Operations, Maintenance, Inspection 
and Evaluation (TOMIE) Manual,'' 2015 edition, available in electronic 
format at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/inspection/tunnel/. 
Incorporation by reference approved for Sec. Sec.  650.505, 650.511(a), 
and 650.513(a) and (h).
    (2) FHWA-HIF-15-006, ``Specifications for National Tunnel 
Inventory,'' 2015 edition, available in electronic format at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/inspection/tunnel/. Incorporation by reference 
approved for Sec.  650.515(a) and (b).

[FR Doc. 2015-16896 Filed 7-13-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-22-P