Session No. 1A

Tunnel Safety

This session will discuss the application and effectiveness of mobile ventilation units (MVUs) for highway tunnel emergency ventilation. An overview of recent ventilation smoke testing of MVUs at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Tuscarora Tunnel will be highlighted. In NCHRP Report 816, a guide for the preservation of highway tunnel systems, will also be discussed. The overview will focus on the maintenance and preservation of tunnel safety systems such as lighting, ventilation, fire protection systems, and emergency egress capacity.

Moderator: Jeff Allen, Gannett Fleming


  • Todd Leiss, Traffic Incident Management Coordinator, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC)
  • Ben Margerum, QCP, NCTI, Senior Mechanical Designer, Gannett Fleming
  • Ben DeVore, Tunnel Maintenance Manager, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) District 11-3


Todd Leiss is the Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Coordinator in the Traffic Engineering and Operations Department for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC). Prior to becoming the PTC TIM Coordinator, Leiss worked as an Operations Center Duty Officer for more than 15 years in the PTC Traffic Operations Center. Prior to his tenure at the PTC he worked as an emergency dispatcher at the Derry Township Police Department and at Lebanon County 911. Leiss is a former volunteer firefighter, emergency medical technician and hazardous material team member. Leiss is a 2018 graduate of the I-95 Corridor Coalition Senior Leadership Operations Academy, a 2019 graduate of the I-95 Corridor Coalition Freight Academy and was named the 2018 ITS-Pennsylvania Person of the Year, the 2019 Cumberland Valley Volunteer Fireman’s Past President Joseph Bukowski Responder Safety Award for Highway Safety award winner and the 2019 ITS-Pennsylvania Project of the Year winner for the Pennsylvania SHRP2 Traffic Incident Management E-Learning Course. Leiss currently leads the statewide traffic incident management program, Pennsylvania Traffic Incident Management Enhancement (PennTIME) and serves as the Assistant Director of Training for the Emergency Responder Safety Institute/Respondersafety.com

Ben Margerum has 13 years of road and transit tunnel inspection experience including initial NTIS inspections of 14 tunnels in Washington, D.C., Colorado, New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida. His tunnel ventilation design experience includes proof-of-concept ventilation modeling for the DDOT I-395 Capital Crossing tunnel extension, ventilation system designs for the renovations of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (PTC) Tuscarora Tunnel and FDOT’s Henry Kinney Tunnel. Currently, Margerum is mid-design on ventilation upgrades at the PTC Blue Mountain and Kittatinny Mountain Tunnels. For 13 years, Margerum has been responsible for the technical oversight of the performance-based maintenance contract for the fire life safety, ventilation systems, and other mechanical elements at the DDOT tunnels in Washington, D.C. He has also overseen tunnel ventilation system commissioning for several tunnels including the new DDOT Capitol Crossing/Air Rights Tunnel extension. Margerum was responsible for specifying mobile ventilation units (MVU) for use by the PTC during the rehabilitation of the Tuscarora Tunnel. This work included developing new standard operating guidelines for emergency ventilation during construction and he conducting classroom and hands-on training of PTC staff and first responders on the use of the new units. He developed testing protocols and executed full-scale smoke testing of the MVUs at the Tuscarora Tunnel in a joint exercise with PTC staff and first responders. Margerum has written NFPA 502 studies/evaluations for road tunnels and several mechanical sections of the TOMIE manual.

Ben DeVore has been the Tunnel Manager for PennDOT District 11-3 for six years and has been with District 11 since 2005. DeVore oversees the operations and maintenance of 4 tunnels in and around the City of Pittsburgh — The Fort Pitt, Squirrel Hill, Liberty and Stowe Tunnels. This includes 24/7/365 staffing of three tunnels, incident management duties on I-376, I-279, I-579, and Business US 19, operation of a reversible HOV lane system, and Freeway Service patrol of I-279. Prior to the tunnels he was the Western Regional TMC Manager covering the western third of Pennsylvania. DeVore began his career working in the Traffic Unit conducting engineering and traffic studies. DeVore is graduate of Geneva College and is a licensed professional engineer.

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Dec. 8, 2021

1:00 to 2:15 p.m.




The Transportation Engineering and Safety Conference (TESC) attracts professionals from throughout Pennsylvania, the mid-Atlantic region, and the country. It is an authoritative source of information on pressing issues from some of the foremost experts in transportation today.

Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute

201 Transportation Research Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4710

Phone: 814-865-1891