By Nick Goldstein, vice president of regulatory affairs, ARTBA

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has embraced an ARTBA recommendation to leave open the scope of work planning and design firms can perform on transportation projects.

The agency released May 22 a final regulation governing the procurement of management and engineering-related services on federal-aid highway projects. It will allow consultants to perform both project management and design services, unless a legitimate conflict of interest can be demonstrated. The proposed rule would have restricted firms from doing both types of work.

ARTBA submitted regulatory comments in November 2012 suggesting FHWA’s language was too broad and could “preclude a host of activities, ranging from environmental reviews to constructability assessments, which are routine to typical program management agreements between public agencies and the private sector.”  As a result of this proposal, ARTBA noted, public agencies would be forced “to separately contract for these services and, thereby, dilute the efficiency advantages of…mutually beneficial arrangements” allowing consultants to both manage and provide additional services on transportation projects.

For a copy of ARTBA’s 2012 comments, please email me at ngoldstein@artba.org.