February 2015

 

 

NACE Sponsors Lower Cost Delivery for Simple Projects Resolution

 

LAPs.jpgWorking with NACE’s Legislative Committee, Daniel Fedderly, Executive Director of the Wisconsin County Highway Association, and Richie Beyer, County Engineer of Elmore County, Alabama, sponsored a special project aimed at project streamlining.

NACE and NACo are proposing that a pilot program be developed with the Secretary of Transportation to select a number of Locally-Administered Projects receiving $5 million or less in federal funds to study whether waiving or reducing federal requirements would reduce costs and expedite project delivery without significant risk.

This method would allow for a strategic partnership to identify the value of reducing or waiving regulatory requirements on projects with county government sponsors. This pilot program could potentially be accomplished in one of two manners. 1) NACo and NACE could directly engage the Secretary to enact a program through use of flexibilities in existing sections of Title 23 USC [106(g) 1A & 3, 109(2), 315, and 325(a) 1 & (c)].  2) Or Include similar language as indicated below in perspective reauthorization legislation.

Narrowed Scope

The specific category of projects would be termed ‘simple projects:’ a highway, tunnel or bridge project eligible for funding under title 23, US Code, that meets the following criteria:

1) receives $5 million or less in federal funding;

2) is a project type that is set out in 23 CFR Part 771.117(c) and/ or (d);

3) occurs within the existing right-of-way in a manner that substantially conforms to the preexisting design, function, and location as the original (which may include upgrades to meet existing codes and standards as well as upgrades warranted to address conditions that have changed since the original construction); and

4) involves the repair, reconstruction, restoration, retrofitting, or replacement of any road, highway, bridge, tunnel, or transit facility (such as a ferry dock or bus transfer station), including ancillary transportation facilities (such as pedestrian/bicycle paths and bike lanes), that is in operation.

The Secretary would establish and implement a pilot program to demonstrate whether waiving or reducing federal requirements for at least 10 locally administered simple projects could expedite project delivery and decrease project costs.

Project Selection

In selecting projects to participate in the program, the Secretary shall –

1) take into consideration geographic diversity;

2) take into consideration the local agency’s experience in administering federal-aid projects; and

3) consult and coordinate with the National Association of County Engineers, the American Public Works Association, and other stakeholder groups as necessary.

Anatomy of the Pilot Program

Two certifications by the project sponsor (consisting of a letter) to the FHWA Division Administrator.  These certifications would be:

1) Certification from the project sponsor that the project was developed and designed to the standards of the project sponsor, this would be local standards for local government agencies, and state standards for STD projects;

2) Certification from the STD or project sponsor that the project will be competitively bid in accordance with 23 CFR 635 Subpart A.  The certification will be executed by the STD if the project is bid by the STD regardless of project sponsor.  Conversely, projects to be bid by local government sponsors shall have their certification executed by the local sponsor.

All simple projects that qualify for authorization under this proposal would not be subject to any additional review or requirements of any other federal agencies.

Additionally, project sponsors would have the same ability allowed under current regulations to request approval for force account construction.

Report to Congress

The Secretary shall prepare a report in consultation with the National Association of County Engineers, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and other stakeholder groups to make recommendations to Congress based on the outcome of the pilot program.

 

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