How Healthy is your Tunnel?

Tunnel structures of all shape, size, use and design exist all over the world and typically form a critical component of a system, be it transport infrastructure or water management as two common examples. 

Of particular concern are older brick, concrete and/or cast iron lined tunnels, many of which are 100+ years old and are reaching the end of their anticipated lifespans. As a result they continue to deteriorate rapidly, often as a result of poor maintenance, long term water infiltration and subsequent corrosion of the cast iron or steel supporting structure.

tunnel 2

In consideration of this, and with particular focus on tunnel linings it is clearly of great value to understand their remaining service life.  When you consider the theoretical design of these tunnels was likely between 50 and 100 years, it is inevitable that a high proportion of them are now deficient.

What to investigate?

How we can help?

What to repair?
With ageing infrastructure it is common practice for tunnel owners (normally transit or government environmental authorities) to deal with the most critical conditions on a structure (typically visual failures) in a reactive manner; in essence performing ‘band aid’ style repairs, which will only last 5-10 years.

Long Term Solution
Echem Consultants provides solutions that vastly extend the existing service life of tunnels through the use of advanced investigative techniques (to identify the root cause of the problem) and then to design and install corrosion mitigation systems that will slow the rate of corrosion to such negligible levels that expansive corrosion and subsequent cracking and spalling of the surrounding concrete will no longer be an issue.

For the tunnel owner this is a ‘win win’ situation:

  • Similar or reduced construction costs to repair the structure
  • Reduced budget requirement for ongoing maintenance
  • A healthy tunnel with a vastly extended service

Related Articles on Tunnel Assessment: 

Amtrak chief gives aging Hudson rail tunnels 20 years to live, tops

Upgrading D.C.’s Virginia Avenue tunnel is key to growing East Coast rail freight, officials say




A full range of laboratories services are available for materials testing. Concrete, masonry and metallographic programs are developed with our in house experts. We also offer research and development expertise with third party material development.


An extensive range of inspection services are offered to diagnose, document and analyze materials. Our services can be applied to the most complex of material problems. Corrosion in concrete and masonry degradation are some of Echem’s unique competencies due to our state of the art approach.

Field Construction

Field construction services include construction administration, training and installation support for contractors, and client representation for third party QA/QC.




Consultant based firm specializing in material analysis service life assessments, durability and corrosion mitigation. Services are offered for existing structures and new construction.