Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices. Topic 54-19. Practices for Controlling Tunnel Leaks

Water infiltration is a common defect encountered in tunnel structures. However, the degree of severity and acceptance criteria associated with tunnel leakage varies depending on tunnel type, geography, weather, and other conditions. While every structure has a design life, poor control and management of leaks can reduce the level of service. A huge investment in time and money can be put into combating leaks and the result will typically not yield at a completely water-tight tunnel. Methods of addressing tunnel leakage is hardly one- size-fits-all. The challenge for tunnel owners is to match the appropriate mitigation measure to the relevant leak type and source. The objective of this research is to document practices used by state department of transportation (DOT) tunnel owners to control tunnel leaks. The synthesis will document practices for detection, prevention, inspection, diverting, stopping, and accepting tunnel leaks. Tunnels of concern include, but are not limited to, mined tunnels, bored tunnels, cut and cover tunnels, and immersed tube tunnels. Information to be gathered includes (but is not limited to) the following: (1) Categorization of tunnel leak types (e.g., seasonal, intermittent, at joints, through liner cracks, conduits, freeway cap structures); (2) Tunnel types with the greatest leak problems; (3) Methods and procedures for detecting tunnel leaks (e.g., routine inspection, thermal imaging, visual inspection, staining, sump pump usage); (4) Methods and procedures for mitigating various types of leaks (e.g., caulking, pressure grouting, conduit plugs, joint repair, drainage systems to divert water); and (5) Criteria for acceptance of leaks once detected (e.g., impact on other systems, impact on other structures, severity, frequency of occurrence). Information will be collected through a literature review, a survey of state DOTs, and follow-up interviews with selected agencies for the development of case examples. Information gaps and suggestions for research to address those gaps will be identified.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $55000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-05, Topic 54-19

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Gause, Jo

  • Performing Organizations:

    Gannett Fleming, Incorporated

    209 Senate Avenue
    Camp Hill, Pennsylvania  United States  17011
  • Principal Investigators:

    Averso, Martha

  • Start Date: 20221010
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01845582
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-05, Topic 54-19
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 18 2022 9:23AM