July 30, 2013
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has begun implementing Rep. Michael Capuano’s tunnel inspection program, which was included in the Conference Report on H.R. 4348: the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012. H.R. 4348 became law last year.
“This represents important progress towards the mandatory inspection of all highway tunnels,” stated Rep. Capuano, who first filed the legislation in January of 2007. After the tragic July 10, 2006 death of Milena Del Valle due to a falling ceiling panel in a Big Dig tunnel, many questions were raised, including questions about inspections. There were no national standards or requirements for inspecting highway tunnels. Instead, the responsibility was with the tunnel owners, who had the authority to determine how and when their tunnels would be inspected.
Rep. Capuano’s legislation created a Nationwide Tunnel Inspection Program modeled after the existing Nationwide Bridge Inspection Program. It directs the Secretary of Transportation to establish minimum inspection requirements for tunnels, including the maximum amount of time permitted between inspections and the manner in which they will be carried out. The DOT is also establishing inspector qualifications, creating a national certification program for inspectors and will implement a program to ensure they are properly trained. The DOT is currently drafting the requirements for tunnel owners which will include maintenance and reporting regulations.
“This program will give us a much better understanding of the condition of our highway tunnels so that potential problems can be addressed in a timely fashion. I thank the DOT for its work to move the inspection process forward,” stated Rep. Capuano.
Contact: Alison Mills (Rep. Capuano) 617-621-6208