The 6 worst tunnels in the world have leaking walls and slippery roads — take a look

eflon/FlickrThe inside of the Lincoln Tunnel in New York City.
  • Most of the world’s tunnels are considered safe for drivers, but a few are still decaying rapidly.
  • The world’s worst tunnels are often plagued by leaking walls, corroding infrastructure, and collapsing or uneven roads.
  • We’ve rounded up six tunnel systems that are in desperate need of repair – including two in New York City.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Elon Musk may have moonshot dreams of building high-speed loops that whiz passengers from city to city, but the world’s tunnels are a far cry from this vision.


Read more:
7 of the most dangerous roads in the world

Rather than serving as oases from traffic, many modern tunnels suffer from congestion and corroding infrastructure. A select few are even becoming dangerous, posing a threat to the daily operations of thousands – in some cases, millions – of residents.

Here are six tunnels that are in such desperate need of repair, they might easily be considered the world’s worst.


China’s Guoliang Tunnel consists of a steep road with no barriers.

Feature China/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media/Getty Images

In the 1970s, the Guoliang Tunnel was chiselled into the Taihang Mountains by 13 villagers – a genesis that doesn’t exactly bode well for its safety. The tunnel is wide enough to fit cars, but its walls are uneven and its road is one of the steepest in the world.

There are also no barriers or street lamps, which could pose a hazard for drivers. Locals now refer to it as “the road that does not tolerate mistakes.”


Boston’s Storrow Drive Tunnel will eventually have to be rebuilt.

Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

In 2017, Travel and Leisure analysed data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for nearly 700,000 bridges in the US. Their analysis awarded each bridge a “sufficiency rating” based on four FHWA categories: structural adequacy, safety, functionality, and whether it was used often by the public.

Boston’s Storrow Drive, which includes the Storrow Drive Tunnel, received the worst rating possible: a zero on a scale of zero to 100. Over time, the tunnel’s cracked beams, drooping ceiling, and leaks have mandated immediate repairs, but the entire structure will likely have to be rebuilt someday, an engineering professor told the Boston Globe.


New York’s Hudson River tunnels are running out of time for repairs.

The Hudson River tunnels in New York City aren’t just old – they’re also falling apart. After Superstorm Sandy flooded the tunnels with saltwater in 2012, the walls have begun to crumble and leak, and steel and electrical cables have corroded rapidly.

The tunnels’ owner, Amtrak, has estimated that the tunnels have about a decade before at least one of them fails. New York legislators are still seeking federal funding for the renovations. At the moment, the tunnels are still considered safe, but time to repair them could be running out.


The Salang Tunnel in Afghanistan has leaky walls and collapsing roads.

Scott Peterson/Getty Images

The Salang Tunnel in Afghanistan is plagued with hazards. Every day, around 10,000 to 20,000 vehicles pass through the tunnel and become exposed to structural defects like leaking walls and uneven or collapsing roads that cause cars to tilt to one side.

Because the tunnel is high up in the Hindu Kush mountains, it’s also vulnerable to avalanches. In 2010, a series of more than a dozen avalanches near the tunnel killed at least 150 people and left thousands stranded in their cars.

Attempts to repair the tunnel have been stalled for many years due to political corruption, such as embezzlement and bribery.


Locals call the Lefortovo Tunnel in Russia “the tunnel of death.”

Located in a suburban area of Moscow, the Lefortovo Tunnel is subject to fierce winter temperatures. When water leaks into the tunnel from the nearby Yauza River, it can freeze and turn into ice, which causes vehicles to slide.

Though drivers have more reason to fear accidents than a fatal crash, locals have nicknamed the structure “the tunnel of death.”


New York City’s Lincoln Tunnel sees some of the worst traffic in the US.

The Lincoln Tunnel may not be the most congested road in America, but it’s by far the most congested tunnel, according to a 2015 report from the American Highway Users Alliance. The report found that Lincoln Tunnel drivers endure 3.4 million hours of delays each year due to bottlenecks, or chokepoints where the number of cars exceeds the tunnel’s capacity.

Traffic is made worse by construction on theRoute 495 bridge, which has been deemed structurally deficient.

Like the other tunnels on this list, the Lincoln Tunnel is still considered safe for drivers – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of problems to fix.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.