The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) January 5 issued a proposal to set minimum national standards for pavement and bridge conditions. The initiative is the second in a series of three rulemakings mandated by the 2012 “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” (MAP-21) surface transportation law aimed at establishing national performance management process to guide improvements on the national highway system. The proposal balances both pavement smoothness and an assessment of subsurface conditions and foundations—a key goal of the ARTBA Trans 2020 Task Force, which developed detailed recommendations for the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding the implementation of MAP-21’s many policy reforms. ARTBA told the department in August 2013, “The measure set by the Secretary for assessing the quality of the Interstate Highways should attempt to balance both pavement smoothness and an assessment of subsurface conditions and foundations.” Further, the proposal follows ARTBA’s recommendation to exclude external factors—such as climate change and livability—from the evaluation of highway and bridge conditions. Once standards have been set, states would be required to report on pavement and bridge conditions to DOT. MAP-21 stipulates that if reported pavement and bridge conditions fail to meet the established minimum national standard, states will be required to dedicate a specific amount of their highway formula funds to improve these conditions and lose the flexibility MAP-21 provides to use these funds on other activities. ARTBA is currently reviewing the rule and will submit comments by the April 6 due date. ARTBA members wishing to provide input or thoughts on the proposed rule should contact ARTBA’s Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Nick Goldstein at (202) 289-4434 ext. 207.
Additionally, FHWA has scheduled a webinar to provide an overview of the proposed rule for January 22 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. Register for the webinar.