Center for National Response

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CBRN Training at CNR.

The Center for National Response is a 2,802 feet (854 m) two-lane vehicular tunnel opened November 8, 1954 as part of the West Virginia Turnpike. Originally known as Memorial Tunnel, the tunnel formerly carried West Virginia Turnpike through/under Paint Creek Mountain in Standard, West Virginia in Kanawha County. Its construction required the movement of 91,000 cubic yards (70,000 m3) of earth, and was the first tunnel in the nation to have closed-circuit television monitoring.[1][1] at a final cost of $5 million.[2] The facility is administered by the West Virginia National Guard.

During the 1980s, an upgrade of the Turnpike included a 1.72 miles (2.77 km) extension that was constructed to serve as a bypass for both the tunnel and the adjacent Stanley Bender Bridge across Paint Creek. [2] Costing $35 million to complete, 10,000,000 cubic yards (7,600,000 m3) of earth were removed in addition to 300,000 tons of coal being removed from the mountain.[2] The final vehicle would pass through the tunnel on July 7, 1987, and it would subsequently close for use for pass through, vehicular traffic.[3]

Closed to interstate traffic since 1987, since being bypassed, the tunnel has become an unusual testing and training facility.[3] The former Turnpike tunnel was first used by state agencies and later converted to serve as a location for first responders local fire and rescue departments, law enforcement organizations, and various federal agencies including military [4] to train for various situations that may arise in such a location without alarming the general public.[1]

Between 1992 and 1995, the Department of Transportation entered a deal with the state to utilize the abandoned tunnel for smoke, fire and ventilation experiments.[5] These experiments were carried out to design better developed ventilation systems for the tunnels being constructed as part of the Big Dig in Boston (the results of the tests were also incorporated into the design of the Channel Tunnel[6]). These experiments also resulted in the Federal Highway Administration allowing jet fans for ventilation in tunnel construction, which was a significant change to their original ventilation designs.[5] The lasting legacy of the Memorial Tunnel Fire Test Program is in both changes in ceilings materials used in tunnel construction as well in the approved use of jet fans for ventilation during construction.[7]

CBRN Training at CNR 121026-M-SO289-214.jpg

By 2000, the tunnel had been selected as the location where the Center for National Response would conduct anti-terrorism training exercises.[6] The current facilities offered in the center include:

  • A rubble area to simulate collapsed buildings[8]
  • An emergency egress trainer[8]
  • A subway station, complete with 800 feet (240 m) of track and two subway cars from Boston's Green Line[8]
  • A drug enforcement section[8]
  • A highway tunnel section, complete with a New York City Transit Authority bus, firetrucks, a tractor-trailer and other vehicles[8]

The tunnel's bypass is not unlike the Pennsylvania Turnpike bypassing the Laurel Hill Tunnel in 1964, followed by the bypass of the Rays Hill and Sideling Hill Tunnels in 1968.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Center for National Response. "Tunnel History". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
  2. ^ "Snapshots of the 20th century". The Charleston Gazette. May 14, 1999. p. 15A.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2010-03-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b Williams, Susan (April 9, 1998). "Tunnel vision: Fiery, one-of-a-kind experiments saved designers $20 million". The Charleston Gazette. p. 1C.
  6. ^ a b Lily, Roger (December 18, 2000). "T 'Terrorism' on the Turnpike: Officers train for worst-case scenarios in closed Memorial Tunnel". The Charleston Gazette. p. 1A.
  7. ^ Sergiu F. Luchian. "Memorial Tunnel Fire Test Program" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-02-20.
  8. ^ a b c d e Steelhammer, Rick (January 19, 2002). "A smashing success: Turnpike tunnel still has value Disaster training site's popularity explodes globally". The Charleston Gazette. p. 1A.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°07′58″N 81°24′54″W / 38.132852°N 81.414957°W / 38.132852; -81.414957