FHWA proposing to revise design-build projects pertaining to NEPA

News AASHTO Journal June 09, 2006
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The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is proposing to revise its contracting practices as called for in Section No. 1503 in the most recent surface transportation authorization that would allow state and local transportation agencies to proceed with preliminary design-build plans prior to the completion of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assessment.

The notice of the proposed rulemaking appeared in the May 25 Federal Register, Vol. 71, No. 101, page 30, 100. Comments on the proposed revision are due by July 24.

The Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users called for the revision, which "would allow contracting agencies to issue request-for-proposal documents, award design-build contracts and issue notices-to-proceed for preliminary design work prior to the completion of section No. 102 of NEPA.

The proposed rule also removes the cost threshold for qualified design-build projects of $50 million and $5 million for intelligent transportation system projects.

Revisions also will attempt to clarify public-private partnerships within the Special Experimental Project (SEP-15) program designed to encourage tests and experimentation using these joint approaches. FHWA also notes that revisions would not affect the total federal funding available to state transportation departments.

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