The future may be looking a little brighter for the country’s aging highway system and the millions of motorists who traverse them every day. That’s because the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) has formally petitioned the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to reconsider and repeal an outdated federal procurement rule that blocks the use of innovative highway construction products that could improve the safety and quality of America’s roadways.
Under Title 23 CFR 635.411, which was adopted in 1916, state and local governments are prohibited from using patented or proprietary products on highway and bridge projects that receive federal funding unless those products qualify for limited exceptions. It’s essentially an archaic rule that prevents highway safety and durability innovations and fails to take into account the evolution of the highway system and its significantly increased volume of traffic in 2018.
Citing examples of the use of composite materials and disc bearings for bridges and safety systems in place on some highways, the ARTBA’s petition aims to expand opportunities for technological innovations used to repair and upgrade the country’s roadways.
Ultimately, the ARTBA’s petition acknowledges that our national transportation assets have evolved extensively since the rule was instated 102 years ago when the country’s roadway system was in its relative infancy. A change to Title 23 CFR 635.411 could spur the development and implementation of available products that could improve traffic congestion, increase roadway durability and longevity and ultimately prevent some of the more than 37,000 motor vehicle related fatalities experienced in the U.S. each year.
>>Read more about the ARTBA’s petition