Jan. 13, 2016




Fort McHenry Tunnel signs installed later this year


BALTIMORE, MD - The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) began installing new fire exit signs in the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel (I-895) last week. The new signs, which provide evacuation guidance for tunnel occupants during fire emergencies, show a green and white running figure on a green background and indicate the direction of evacuation and distance to tunnel exit.

"The MDTA strives to ensure that Maryland's tunnels meet or exceed the latest national and international tunnel safety guidelines and standards," said MDTA Executive Director Milt Chaffee. "In fact, we implemented this signage after participating on the national research panel headed by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program."

The photoluminescent white and green signs include the 'running man' symbol, the message "FIRE EXIT" and dual directional arrows with distances to each exit portal so that occupants know the direction and distance to tunnel exit. The signs indicate two opposite directions and distances because the Harbor Tunnel occasionally operates in a two-way traffic configuration so emergency egress could occur in either direction.

"In Europe, the 'running man' signs are used widely in tunnels and have become a recognizable standard symbol to tunnel occupants to quickly identify emergency exits," said MDTA Chief Engineer Dan Williams. "Now, similar signs are being incorporated into tunnels across our country as a new standard sign."

The MDTA continuously looks for ways to enhance emergency response in tunnels. The plan was reviewed in conjunction with the National Fire Protection Association Standard 502, which provides the fire protection and fire life safety requirements for road tunnels.

Proposed Guidelines for Emergency Exit Signs and Marking Systems for Highway Tunnels

In total, 192 signs - 96 per tube - are being installed approximately every 80 feet along the inner wall of both tubes in the Harbor Tunnel. Installation is nearly complete in the southbound tube. Later this year, a similar signing program will be carried out in the Fort McHenry Tunnel.

The 1.4-mile, four-lane Harbor Tunnel opened in November 1957. Learn more about the Harbor Tunnel at For real-time updates on major incidents follow us on Twitter at Find us on Facebook at