CONCRETE PAVING IN TUNNELS
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Improving overall safety in road tunnels and underpasses requires incombustible and non-toxic road pavements that ensure maximum safety for people, facilities and the environment.
Europe is served by over 15 000 kilometers of tunnels and underpasses used for transport. Tunnels are thus vital to preserve the transport infrastructure. For example, in Switzerland, around 50% of the highways proposed to be built for the completion of the road network by 2015 would run through tunnels. Still, tunnels are not just used to cross mountains. Increasingly they are being built under cities to relieve surface congestion (e.g. Stockholm and Paris). Tunnels are also being built under waterways, e.g. the Channel Tunnel, linking Calais (France) and Folkestone (England) and the Oresud and Great Belt tunnels in Scandinavia.
Road and railway tunnels as well as underpasses can pose risk to the public. The appropriate choice of materials and design helps minimizing this risk. However, so far, little attention has been paid to the material used for road construction in tunnels. Specialists are almost always focusing on the structural safety of the tunnel, its robustness and stability but do not consider the road surface. Nevertheless, the quality of the road pavement is of a great concern. In case of fire, an incombustible and non-toxic road pavement contributes to the safety of persons (users and rescue teams). This type of pavement protects the tunnel equipment and structure and helps preserving the environment.
There are significant benefits in constructing the road pavement with concrete:
Improved safety for people and structure;
Improved durability of the road pavement, facilities and structure;
Contribution to environmental protection and sustainable development.
Tunnel operators and regulatory authorities are urged to take measures to specify concrete pavements in all new tunnel construction. The Austrian Decree of September 2001 requiring concrete road pavement for new tunnels longer than one kilometre can be used as a reference basis.
© Copyright: CEMBUREAU publication Improving fire safety in tunnels: the concrete pavement solution, April 2004.
The brochure "Improving fire safety in tunnels: the concrete pavement solution" is available in English, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Turkish.
More information on the CEMBUREAU website www.cembureau.eu (choose the "Concrete" section in the menu).
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