"After 28 years of continuous operation, it was simply necessary to upgrade the tunnel to the latest state of technology," said Kurt Portschy, Division Manager at the Austrian operating company Asfinag. The go-ahead is given for comprehensive refurbishment measures—a sensitive issue for a transport hub of this size.
The Kaisermühlentunnel in Vienna consists of a 2.1 km long section of the A22 Donauufer freeway. At least three lanes run in each direction as well as breakdown lanes and several approaches and exits. Between 100,000 and 150,000 cars use the Kaisermühlentunnel on a daily basis. The tunnel is one of the main traffic arteries of Austria's capital city. Any problems lead to a traffic collapse in the shortest time. The importance of the tunnel as a traffic hub of course also played a role in the upgrading. Only individual lanes were closed, if at all, and especially at night when traffic density is low. "For us as lighting partners, this meant that we had to deliver precisely the right quantities of luminaires just in time," stated Günther Weinlich, Project Manager at SITECO.
What makes the "new" Kaisermühlentunnel so special is its sophisticated safety concept. A total of 188 video cameras and 91 microphones serve as the tunnel's eyes and ears. They respond to unusual processes and sounds—the banging of a car door, squeaking tires, a collision or voices. Sensors measure temperatures and air values. All information comes together in a central control station in the "AKUT" alarm system. Only 23 other tunnels currently have this emergency system which is capable of reducing alarm times by a good four minutes and immediately initiating emergency operation or even closure. In Vienna, the central BUS control communicates not only with ventilation, speed displays and such systems but also with the lighting. In the event of danger for example, the lighting is automatically raised to the highest level. "With the current safety features we can well say that the Kaisermühlentunnel is one of the safest in Europe," said a convinced Kurt Portschy from Asfinag.
Around 1,600 TL 31 LED tunnel luminaires from SITECO were installed during the upgrading project. These replace the former lighting consisting of sodium vapor lamps (SON). "With the new solution we can achieve eight times the illuminance with roughly the same electricity overheads," explained Weinlich. Possible savings potential was not the decisive factor for the client, but rather improved brightness levels and maximum safety in the tunnel. In the past, special hazard zones such as portals and exits were marked by a change in light color. "That's no longer needed today. We have such high lighting levels throughout the tunnel that best visibility is everywhere," informed Weinlich. Best vision and best visual comfort, because the lighting in the Kaisermühlentunnel also helps to adapt the eye to the visibility conditions in the tunnel. Luminance cameras measure the brightness in front of the tunnel and regulate illuminance inside the tunnel accordingly—a further contribution to road safety.
Asfinag invested 40 million euros in the two-year refurbishment. SITECO not only provided the new LED tunnel lighting, but also unburdened the operator in terms of lighting design and commissioning as well as final documentation and staff training.
In addition, an alternative mounting for the luminaires was developed especially for the Kaisermühlentunnel, saving significant installation time and complexity in the client's interest. Günther Weinlich: "In the Kaisermühlentunnel there was already a cable route on the ceiling. It made perfect sense to use this instead of adjacently placing new installation points on the ceiling." For this reason the installed tunnel luminaires were quickly equipped with a new mounting option—and also on time. The upgrading measures to the Kaisermühlentunnel were completed at the end of 2018. Only final system checks took place in the first quarter of 2019.