By Brad Sant, senior vice president of safety and education, ARTBA
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Sept. 8 issued a guidance memorandum that details how states can recoup the cost of acquiring highway safety equipment as a direct charge on federal-aid projects, provided certain conditions are met.
The decision is a win for ARTBA members and others whose equipment was previously ineligible due to its ability to be used long-term, on multiple projects.
Up-front equipment acquisition costs are now eligible for use of certain federal highway funding categories if states provide “sufficient documentation supporting a federal highway or transportation interest,” the FHWA memo says. In part, the equipment must have a useful life of more than one year and a per-unit acquisition cost that equals or exceeds the lesser of the capitalization level.
Also, each equipment purchase must meet the specific requirements tied to the program from which funds are drawn. States may use National Highway Performance Program, Surface Transportation Block Grant Program Project, or Highway Safety Improvement Program funds for this purpose.
The association is pleased with the decision as it believes this will improve safety for workers and motorists, and encourage competition and innovation in both the public and private sectors by allowing funding for new classes of construction and safety equipment.
Last year, ARTBA asked FHWA to clarify its position on whether state transportation departments can use federal-aid highway funds to purchase movable safety barriers. Movable concrete, steel and other highly mobile barriers are proven to be extremely effective in providing positive separation between workers and traffic, a federal goal articulated by Congress in surface transportation program law and strongly supported by the industry.
ARTBA President & CEO Pete Ruane expressed concern in his April 27, 2016, letter to the agency that clarification was needed to allow “the use of this innovative, life-saving product class on federal-aid highway projects across the nation.” The new policy represents a significant step forward in addressing those concerns.
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