[Federal Register Volume 66, Number 187 (Wednesday, September 26, 2001)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 49152-49154]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 01-24091]



Federal Highway Administration

23 CFR Part 650

[FHWA Docket No. FHWA-2001-9182]
RIN 2125-AE75

Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM); request for 


SUMMARY: The FHWA is seeking comments regarding improvements that can 
be made to its regulation outlining the highway bridge replacement and 
rehabilitation program (HBRRP). In addition, the FHWA is considering 
the inclusion and/or modification of existing policies so that the 
States and local governments can better manage their bridge assets. 
Over the years, the FHWA has established policies in many areas for the 
proper use of bridge funds. The FHWA may need to eliminate some of 
these policies and incorporate others into the regulation. The FHWA 
seeks comments from the public, State and local governments, and other 
Federal agencies on the best means to improve the program.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before December 26, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Mail or hand deliver comments to the U.S. Department of 
Transportation, Dockets Management Facility, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh 
Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590, or submit electronically at http://dmses.dot.gov/submit. All comments should include the docket number 
that appears in the heading of this document. All comments received 
will be available for examination and copying at the above address from 
9 a.m. to 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. 
Those desiring notification of receipt of comments must include a self-
addressed, stamped postcard or you may print the acknowledgment page 
that appears after submitting comments electronically.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Raymond McCormick, Office of 
Bridge Technology, HIBT-30, (202) 366-4675; or Mr. Robert Black, Office 
of the Chief Counsel, HCC-31, (202) 366-1359, Federal Highway 
Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590-0001. 
Office hours are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. e.t., Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays.


Electronic Access and Filing

    You may submit or retrieve comments online through the Document 
Management System (DMS) at: http://dmses.dot.gov/submit. Acceptable 
formats include: MS Word (versions 95 to 97), MS Word for Mac (versions 
6 to 8), Rich Text File (RTF), American Standard Code Information 
Interchange (ASCII)(TXT), Portable Document Format (PDF), and 
WordPerfect (versions 7 to 8). The DMS is available 24 hours each day, 
365 days each year. Electronic submission and retrieval help and 
guidelines are available under the help section of the web site.
    An electronic copy of this document may also be downloaded by using 
a computer, modem and suitable communications software from the 
Government Printing Office's Electronic Bulletin Board Service at (202) 
512-1661. Internet users may also reach the Office of the Federal 
Register's home page at: http://www.nara.gov/fedreg and the Government 
Printing Office's web page at: http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara.


    The Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program (HBRRP) 
was established in accordance with section 124 of the Surface 
Transportation Assistance Act of 1978 (Pub. L. 95-599, 92 Stat. 2689, 
2702). It was established to assist the States in the replacement and 
rehabilitation of bridges declared unsafe because of structural 
deficiencies, physical deterioration, or functional obsolescence. The 
FHWA published regulations to provide guidance and establish procedures 
for administering the HBRRP at 44 FR 15665 on March 15, 1979. The 
regulation for administering the HBRRP is contained in 23 CFR part 650, 
subpart D. Over the years, the FHWA has incorporated many policy and 
administrative changes into the HBRRP. In addition, the Intermodal 
Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) (Pub. L. 102-240, 
105 Stat. 1914) and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century 
(TEA-21) (Pub. L. 105-178, 112 Stat. 107 (1998)) provided considerable 
flexibility to the States with regards to the Federal-aid program. In 
recognition of these facts, the FHWA is seeking input into the revision 
of the regulations so that they better meet the needs of the State and 
local governments while, at the same time, meeting the national goals 
of improving the condition of the Nation's bridges.
    In the National Bridge Inventory (NBI) (see 23 CFR 650.311) there 
are approximately 587,598 bridges nationwide, of which 170,130 are 
classified as being either structurally deficient or functionally 
obsolete. The HBRRP funding is available for replacement or 
rehabilitation of these deficient structures, with the terms 
``replacement'' and ``rehabilitation'' as defined under 23 CFR 
650.405(b), and summarized below. There remain an additional 417,468 
bridges that would benefit from increased service life with sufficient 
maintenance and preservation work. The current regulations do not 
address the use of the HBRRP funds for system preservation activities 
that would extend the service life of the structures. The status of the 
Nation's infrastructure is changing. In the past, there was a greater 
need to construct new bridges on new alignments. In the present, 
perhaps a more cost-effective approach would be to systematically 
extend the service life of our structures using data from the bridge 
management system.
    Currently, a bridge is eligible for HBRRP funding if it is 
undergoing major reconstruction. ``Major reconstruction'' is 
interpreted to mean rehabilitation or replacement under 23 CFR 
650.405(b). To summarize:

1. Rehabilitation

    Conduct of major work to restore the structural integrity of a 
bridge as well as work necessary to correct major safety defects. The 
bridge needing rehabilitation, both on and off the Federal-aid system, 
must conform to the provisions of 23 CFR part 625, Design Standards for 
Federal-aid Highways for the class of highway on which the bridge is a 
part. The standards that apply for a bridge on the National Highway 
System (NHS) would be the American Association of State Highway and 
Transportation Officials (AASHTO) standards, and for a Federal-aid 
bridge off the NHS, the States' standards.

2. Replacement

    Conduct of work to replace a structurally deficient or functionally 
obsolete bridge with a new facility constructed in the same general 
traffic corridor. The new structure must meet the current geometric, 
construction, and structural standards required for the

[[Page 49153]]

type and volume of projected traffic on the facility over its design 
    In our effort to facilitate review of the Highway Bridge 
Replacement and Rehabilitation Program regulations, the FHWA seeks 
comments on the following questions:
    1. A bridge is eligible for HBRRP funding if it is undergoing major 
reconstruction as defined under Sec. 650.405. Is the current definition 
for major reconstruction adequate? If not, how should it be modified?
    2. Section 309 of National Highway System Designation Act of 1995 
(NHS Act) (Pub. L. 104-59, 109 Stat 634, November 28, 1995) added 
subsection (d) to section 116 of title 23. Subsection (d) now includes 
preventive maintenance as an activity that shall be eligible for 
Federal assistance if the State demonstrates that the activity is a 
cost-effective means of extending the useful life of a Federal-aid 
highway. In light of the changes made to title 23 by the NHS Act, 
should the definition of what constitutes rehabilitation be expanded? 
Work on a bridge that would protect the structural integrity and/or 
extend its useful service life might be included in the definition of 
    3. The FHWA intends to make the HBRRP an effective program, which 
provides funds for upgrading the Nation's bridges to provide for 
increasingly safe structures for the traveling public. What flexibility 
should be provided in this program in order to reach this goal?
    4. The standards that govern eligibility for rehabilitation and 
replacement are the AASHTO or the States' standards depending on the 
classification of the highway system. Should there be consistency 
nationwide on the appropriate standard(s) to be followed on all bridges 
that are insensitive to highway classification? The FHWA requests ideas 
on how to achieve this and manage it on a national level.
    5. The following examples of work are not considered major 
reconstruction, and are therefore not eligible for HBRRP funds.
     Safety feature replacement or upgrading (bridge rail, 
approach rail or impact attenuators).
     Overlay of bridge deck if part of a larger highway-
surfacing project.
     Utility work.
     Emergency repair to restore structural integrity to the 
previous status following an accident.
     Retrofitting to correct a deficiency, which does not 
substantially alter physical geometry or increase the load-carrying 
     Work performed to keep a bridge operational while plans 
for complete rehabilitation or replacement are under preparation.
     Cost of long approach fills, causeways, connecting 
roadways, interchanges, ramps and other extensive earth structures, 
when constructed beyond the attainable touchdown point. (A nominal 
amount of approach work, sufficient to connect the new facility to the 
existing roadway or to return the grade line to an attainable touchdown 
point in accordance with good design practice is eligible).
    Should the definition of major reconstruction project include some 
or all of these types of projects? Should these types of projects be 
eligible for HBRRP funds?
    7. The FHWA uses the sufficiency rating as a basis for establishing 
eligibility and priority for HBRRP funding. Through this process a list 
of eligible bridges is established. The States then may choose any 
bridge project on this list for replacement or rehabilitation. Should 
this process be changed? If so, what method would be most effective in 
eliminating deficient bridges?
    8. The apportionment factors are based on bridge construction unit 
costs sent annually by the States to the FHWA. The FHWA uses 3-year 
averages of these costs as replacement costs. The FHWA is seeking 
comments on this process and on improving the accuracy of the cost data 
    9. Section 650.411 sets procedures for bridge replacement and 
rehabilitation projects for submission and approval. Should any of this 
be modified? If so, how? Related Rulemakings and Notices: The FHWA is 
also in the process of reviewing 23 CFR part 650, subpart C, National 
Bridge Inspection Standards. The FHWA will soon publish an advanced 
notice of proposed rulemaking for this program. Additionally, the FHWA 
will soon publish a notice of proposed rulemaking for 23 CFR part 650, 
subpart G, Discretionary Bridge Candidate Rating Factor.

Rulemaking Analyses and Notices

    All comments received before the close of business on the comment 
closing date indicated above will be considered and will be available 
for examination in the docket at the above address. Comments received 
after the comment closing date will be filed in the docket and will be 
considered to the extent practicable. In addition to late comments, the 
FHWA will also continue to file relevant information in the docket as 
it becomes available after the comment period closing date, and 
interested persons should continue to examine the docket for new 
material. An NPRM may be issued at any time after close of the comment 

Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) and DOT 
Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    The FHWA has determined preliminarily that the contemplated rule 
would not be a significant regulatory action within the meaning of 
Executive Order 12866 and would not be significant within the meaning 
of U. S. Department of Transportation regulatory policies and 
procedures. It is anticipated that the economic impact of this action 
would be minimal. Changes to the HBRRP would increase the number of 
bridges eligible under the program. However, if the total amount of 
funding for the program remains the same, the impact on the economy 
would be minimal. Further, if the FHWA extends eligibility to include 
maintenance and preservation in the long run this would have a positive 
impact by increasing the service life of existing bridges, and 
therefore would offset any initial increase in the number of eligible 
bridges. Any proposed changes should not likely interfere with any 
action taken or planned by another agency.
    Based upon the information received in response to this ANPRM, the 
FHWA intends to carefully consider the costs and benefits associated 
with this rulemaking. Accordingly, comments, information, and data are 
solicited on the economic impact of any proposed recommendation for 
changes to the HBRRP.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    In compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (Pub. L. 96-354, 
5 U.S.C. 60 l-612), and based upon the information received in response 
to this ANPRM, the FHWA will evaluate the effects of any action 
proposed on small entities. The FHWA anticipates that any action 
proposed would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities. The FHWA encourages commenters to evaluate 
any options addressed here with regard to the potential for impact, and 
to formulate their comments accordingly.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    The actions being considered under this ANPRM would not impose 
unfunded mandates as defined by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 
1995 (Public. Law. 104-4, March 22, 1995,

[[Page 49154]]

109 Stat. 48). The actions being considered under this ANPRM would not 
result in the expenditure by State, local, and tribal governments, in 
the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in any 
one year (2 U.S.C. 1532). Further, in compliance with the Unfunded 
Mandates Reform Act of 1995, the FHWA will evaluate any regulatory 
action that might be proposed in subsequent stages of the proceeding to 
assess the affects on State, local, and tribal governments and the 
private sector.

Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    Any action that might be proposed in subsequent stages of this 
proceeding will be analyzed in accordance with the principles and 
criteria contained in Executive Order 13132, and the FHWA anticipates 
that any action contemplated will not have sufficient federalism 
implications to warrant the preparation of a federalism assessment. The 
FHWA also anticipates that any action taken will not preempt any State 
law or State regulation or affect the States' ability to discharge 
traditional State governmental functions. We encourage commenters to 
consider these issues, however, as well as matters concerning any costs 
or burdens that might be imposed on the States as a result of actions 
considered here.

Executive Order 13175 (Tribal Consultation)

    Any action that might be proposed in subsequent stages of this 
proceeding will be analyzed under Executive Order 13175, dated November 
6, 2000. The FHWA believes that any proposal will not have substantial 
direct effects on one or more Indian tribes; will not impose 
substantial direct compliance costs on Indian tribal governments; and 
will not preempt tribal law. Therefore, the FHWA anticipates that a 
tribal summary impact statement will not be required.

Executive Order 12372 (Intergovernmental Review)

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Number 20.205, 
Highway Planning and Construction. The regulations implementing 
Executive Order 12372 regarding intergovernmental consultation on 
Federal programs and activities apply to this program.

Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform)

    This action meets applicable standards in section 3(a) and 3(b)(2) 
of Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform, to minimize litigation, 
eliminate ambiguity, and reduce burden.

Executive Order 13045 (Protection of Children)

    We have analyzed this action under Executive Order 13045, 
Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety 
Risks. This rule is not an economically significant rule and does not 
concern an environmental risk to health or safety that may 
disproportionately affect children.

Executive Order 12630 (Taking of Private Property)

    This rule will not effect taking of private property or otherwise 
have taking implications under Executive Order 12630, Governmental 
Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected Property 

Paperwork Reduction Act

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501, et 
seq.), Federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) for each collection of information they 
conduct, sponsor, or require through regulations. The FHWA has 
determined that this ANPRM does not contain a collection of information 
requirement for purposes of the PRA.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The agency also will analyze any action that might be proposed for 
the purpose of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 
4321-4347) to assess whether there would be any effect on the quality 
of the environment.

Regulation Identification Number

    A regulation identification number (RIN) is assigned to each 
regulatory action listed in the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations. 
The Regulatory Information Service Center publishes the Unified Agenda 
in April and October of each year. The RIN contained in the heading of 
this document can be used to cross-reference this action with the 
Unified Agenda.

List of Subjects in 23 CFR Part 650

    Bridges, Grant programs--transportation, Highways and roads.

    Authority: 23 U.S.C. 144 and 315; 49 CFR 1.48.

    Issued on: September 19, 2001.
Vincent F. Schimmoller,
Deputy Executive Director.
[FR Doc. 01-24091 Filed 9-25-01; 8:45 am]