Civil Engineering and Construction

Upgrading a highway tunnel to meet new standards



On 25th August 2000 an inter-departmental (French government) circular imposed new standards on highway tunnels. The objective was to improve traffic safety in tunnels and to reinforce the protection of the surrounding natural environment.


The problem


The necessary renovation of the north tube of the tunnel, for which our work was commissioned, required almost six months’ work. No aspect of the existing tunnel conformed to the new standards, so the first months of work involved a massive civil engineering effort.


Project details


  • Motorway tunnel : width 8 m, height 11 m
  • Length surveyed : 400 m




  • To survey the existing situation after demolition of the false ceiling and side walls of the tunnel


The requirement


  • Digital model of the tunnel walls and roof
  • Volume calculations
  • Cross-sectional profiles every 3.50 m




  • Work to take place at night
  • Survey observations during demolition (in the presence of heavy equipment including trucks and excavators)
  • Very short deadlines for data processing after capture


Our responses


TPLM-3D was not only involved during the civil engineering phase, but also during the demolition of the existing side walls and the false ceiling. Because the schedule for reopening the motorway was very tight, work took place 24 hours per day, 6 days per week. To optimise the time on site, targets were placed and observed by the engineering consortium’s own surveyor. Our surveys could thus be integrated into the coordinate system already in place in the tunnel. We used the HDS 3000 scanner (producing 360°×270°scans), to survey 400 m of tunnel with an average density of one point every 5 cm. These point clouds, captured in one night’s work, were then combined and georeferenced to the existing coordinate system thanks to the targets bolted into the rock. This provided a 3D triangular irregular network (TIN or mesh) which then provided the basis for :


  • volume calculation of the difference between the existing situation and the new design (prism method)
  • extraction of closely spaced cross-sectional profiles to enable the new design to be set out.


Nuage de point Maillage filaire


To guarantee adherence to the specified tolerances, we took special care both with the choice of points for the TIN and with the method of generating it, in order to eliminate measurement noise and especially in order to provide checks on the resulting model.

In this way the transition from point cloud data (faithful to reality but unusable by the client) to the 3D mesh model was managed so as to provide the best possible compromise between density of information, file size and accuracy, thus generating the optimum result.






  • AutoCAD file containing the 3D cross-sectional profiles
  • AutoCAD file containing a 2D version of the profiles