Road Tunnels Manual






This Road Tunnels Manual, in electronic version, is a major achievement of the technical committee Road Tunnel Operations, during the operating cycle 2008-2011, under the decisive leadership of its president Pierre Schmitz (Belgium).

This work makes it possible to make available in readily accessible form the knowledge and recommendations hitherto published, by the World Road Association, in the form of separate reports. The organization in the form of Web pages facilitates the access to information and will also in the future make it possible to more easily update the contents in accordance with the progress of knowledge.

The version put on line at the time of XXIV World Road Congress in Mexico City, in September 2011, is a first version of this Manual. Initially, the contents of the old reports will remain accessible by the means of links towards the PDF files from these documents. Later on, when the contents of these reports are updated, the text will be recast in the form of Web pages to improve reader convenience.

In order to give a broad audience to this Manual, which is without equivalent in its field, the electronic version is produced and will be maintained, by the technical committee in the three official languages of the Association: English, French and Spanish. Nevertheless some countries have expressed an interest to have a version of the Manual in their own language; thus versions are under development in Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Portuguese on the initiative of various organizations and with the assistance of the technical committee. We make a point of encouraging such initiatives which must be expressed to the Secretary General of the World Road Association, who will guide the proposals.

We hope that this Manual will be an indisputable reference in the whole world, and that it translates, in an objective way, the best practices and knowledge at the moment. For that we need your remarks and suggestions in order to improve and to update this Manual.

Good reading and thanks in advance for your comments and suggestions.

Jean-François Corté
Secretary General
World Road Association
August 2011


1. THE ROAD tunnels MANUAL

Road tunnels are increasingly used to cross natural barriers such as mountain ranges, rivers, straits or bays. They also constitute a solution, sometimes the only one, to the environmental and spatial constraints of the urban environment, where in the future three-quarters of the global population will live. Under these conditions, the construction and the maintenance of a tunnel are always a challenge and their realisation requires the use of techniques and tools that are increasingly sophisticated and complex.

The World Road Association (PIARC) is a governmental organisation that aims at fostering and facilitating global discussion and knowledge sharing on roads and road transport. This is delivered by Technical Committees that it creates and coordinates.

"Road Tunnel Operations" Committee meeting in Da Nang (Vietnam – October 2013)

The need to bring together the experiences gained in the field of the tunnel operations goes back several decades. This is why, in 1957, PIARC created the "Road Tunnel Committee" to address a range of issues related to the use of road tunnels, such as geometry, equipment and its maintenance, operation, safety and the environment. Since that date, this committee has produced technical recommendations in these various domains, in particular in the form of technical reports or articles published in the Routes/Roads magazine. These recommendations are substantially followed worldwide and they are even often used as the basis for contractual specifications in many countries.

In 2007, it was considered useful to group together, summarize and update the vast quantity of information contained in these various reports and articles. The result of this considerable work was the first version of the on-line Road Tunnels Manual published in September 2011.

The development of the Manual is based on an ontological approach explained in the article "Improvement of road tunnel design & operation based on an ontological knowledge management support system" available in English, French, Czech and Russian.

This second version of this Manual has a new structure and comprises four main parts - Strategy and General Design, Safety, Equipment and Systems and Operation and Maintenance. There is also a Glossary, a list of Useful Links and a list of Acronyms used into the Manual.

In order to give a broad audience to this PIARC Manual, it is available in 10 languages. The English, French and Spanish versions are original versions validated by the technical committee. The Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Portuguese versions are translations of these original versions, validated by the representatives of these countries in the Technical Committee.

We invite you to begin by reading the following paragraph, "2. If it is your first visit !", to acquaint yourself with the various user-friendly features developed to help you to more easily find the information which you are looking for.

Enjoy your reading!


This site contains several features which will allow you to navigate there more easily.

Choice of the language : by clicking on the chosen language in the right upper side of the screen (left side in Arabic version)  you will automatically be redirected towards that linguistic version, on the same page as the one on which you are.


Search tool : if you type a term in the window situated next to the menu "Tools" and if you click then on the magnifying glass, all the pages where this term exists will automatically be listed. You then just have to click on the chosen title to be automatically redirected towards this page. You can refine your search by clicking on the small white triangle which appears next to the search window (Typology, Chapters of the Manual, Date of publication).


Printing : if you click on the red PDF icon then on "Current page", you will reach the printable PDF file of the page. If you are on a front page of a chapter or a book, you can also click on "Entire chapter" to access the printable pdf file of the whole chapter or book.


Return to the top of page : click on the white arrow on the right side of the page.

Acronyms : acronyms are underlined by a blue dotted line. If you keep your curser above the acronym, its meaning will appear in a pop up.



Subscribe : if you wish to be informed of modifications of made to the Manual, you just have to click on "Subscribe" in the window "Stay informed!" at the top of the homepage or at the bottom of all other pages.

An opinion or a comment : if you wish to contact the persons in charge of the Manual for an opinion or a comment, use the "Click here" button in the window "Give us your feedback!" located at the bottom of each page and then to complete the form.

Contact PIARC : if you wish to send a message to the PIARC General Secretary about the Manual in general or about the "Road Tunnel Operations" technical committee and its products, please click on "Contact PIARC" at the very bottom of any page then complete the form.


This Manual was designed to be a "live" document in order to be able to follow the frequent technological developments that are adopted from the design to the operation of the tunnels, and to be able to easily integrate the new reports that will be produced by the committee during following cycles. In the first version (2008-2011), the committee members have primarily endeavoured to define the structure of the Manual and to integrate into it, by means of new text or hyperlinks, the most relevant documents that already exist. Later, the old texts will be up-dated and up-graded as necessary and on these occasions the integration of their content within the Manual will be examined when appropriate.

All the last updates are listed here below, starting from the second version v 2.0 of the Manual in English from October 2019.

No update at this day.

4. Future Editions AND THANKS

Meeting of the Working Group in charge of the Manual (Lyon - 2009)In order to help the committee to improve this Manual, all your comments and suggestions are welcome. You can forward them by clicking on the "Click here" button in the window "Give us your feedback!" located at the bottom of each page and then by completing the form.

We would like to thank all those who have contributed to the realisation of this Manual and in particular all members of the preceding tunnel committees which wrote the reports on which this Manual is based.

We hope that this Manual will constitute useful and user-friendly reference material for all those concerned with road tunnel operations and safety. We hope that it will meet their requirements and, with the comments and suggestions of its readers, that future tunnel committees can improve the Manual so that it becomes a valuable tool for all and helps to support the efficient and safe transport of people and goods in road tunnels.



President of Technical Committee C4 Road Tunnel Operations (2008-2011)
Ministry of the Region Brussels Capital - Brussels Mobility
Brussels (Belgium)
PIARC Honorary Member