Freeze-thaw deterioration is dependent on the concrete being saturated in multiple freezing/thawing cycles. In an overhead application, where water can’t stand on the surface, the concrete can’t be saturated unless water permeates through from the upper surface. And with good quality concrete in the tunnel, water shouldn’t permeate through, so it should be functionally watertight. As a result, freeze-thaw likely isn’t a critical durability issue.

A steel trowel finish does require extra working of the surface and would require the contractor to be very attentive to the proper time to obtain the finish yet not overly disturb the fresh concrete. Gravity is working against the overhead concrete staying in place.

Having a smooth steel trowel finish would make minor shrinkage cracks more noticeable. However, in the tunnel without exposure to sunlight or much wind exposure, and with proper attention to curing, perhaps surface cracking will be minimal.