On November 24, the FHWA issued a notice and request for comment regarding Design Standards for Highways (Docket No. FHWA-2019-0030). ACPA mobilized quickly to review the proposal and provide detailed industry comments. The proposed rule would allow States to develop design standards for resurfacing, restoration and rehabilitation projects—commonly known as RRR—for freeways, including those on the interstate system.  ACPA commented that although our industry is supportive of changes in regulations that would allow State DOTs to develop RRR freeway projects using a performance-based, flexible approach, we feel it is critically important that any such approach prioritize and ensure cost effectiveness together with safety and regulatory relief.

Below is a summary of ACPA’s response, which Leif Wathne submitted on December 24th:

  • ACPA supports the view expressed by AASHTO more than 60 years ago that all possible and proper measures be taken to ensure the taxpayers of this country that they are receiving the full value of every highway dollar spent.1
  • The concrete pavement industry contends this applies in the resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation (RRR) arena, as well.
  • Although ACPA supports changes in regulations that would allow State DOTs to develop RRR freeway projects using a performance-based, flexible approach, we feel it is critically important that any such approach prioritize and ensure cost effectiveness together with safety and regulatory relief.
  • One important way that FHWA can ensure cost effectiveness in this context is to modify the proposed language in section 625.3 (a) (1) (iii) from: “Cost savings by utilizing flexibility that exists in current design guidance and regulations; and…” to “Life-cycle cost savings by utilizing flexibility that exists in current design guidance and regulations; and…” (emphasis added)

The document adds that it’s ACPA’s posture that the only plausible way to ensure ‘economy of maintenance’ as required by the Standard in 23 USC 109(a)(1) and the Policy in 23 CFR 625.2(a)(1) is with use of life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA). Without an explicit focus on life-cycle costs (or, as articulated by Congress in TEA-21, a process for evaluating the total economic worth of a usable project segment by analyzing initial costs and discounted future costs, such as maintenance, user, reconstruction, rehabilitation, restoring, and resurfacing costs, over the life of the project segment), the concept of ‘economy of maintenance’ has no meaning.2

Regarding FHWA’s proposed changes in 23 CFR 625.4, the comments affirm ACPA’s support of those proposed changes to incorporate by reference the latest versions of design standards and standard specifications that have been previously adopted. Click here to view the complete ACPA document. Click here to see the FHWA’s proposed rule, as posted in November.

__________________________________

1. “An Informational Guide on Project Procedures,” American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO), Nov. 26, 1960 
2. Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, Public Law 105-178, Section 1305(c) 

Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.