Road Tunnels Manual

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Economic issues

A tunnel creates wealth. On a national level, the main part of this wealth creation is due to reduced travelling time, notably for goods transport. It should be noted that the economic benefits of investment in road tunnels are a very complex matter and mostly related to subjective evaluation by decision makers.  However, the economic arguments behind the decision to build a tunnel will largely consider the benefits of doing so against the costs.

The potential benefits from constructing a tunnel may consider the following range of issues:

  • Road user benefits – due to change in travel time and vehicle operating costs
  • Journey time reliability benefits – changes in the journey time reliability of the network.
  • Wider economic benefits – job and housing support, potential for regeneration, agglomeration economics.

The decision-making evaluation behind the costs for installing a new tunnel will need to consider three main elements: investment, operating and maintenance costs. Construction and maintenance costs will need to consider the impacts on road user travel time and vehicle operating costs during scheme construction and for maintenance.

During the construction phase, it is necessary to ensure that all the planned technical specifications are implemented and that the identified objectives are attained. Finally, it is important to be particularly vigilant with regards to financial aspects, so as to ensure that the cost of works remains within the overall allocated budget.

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