[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 92 (Friday, May 11, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 21972-21976]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-09609]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration

23 CFR Part 625

[Docket No. FHWA-2017-0001]
[RIN 2125-AF72]


Design Standards for Highways

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), U.S. Department of 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM); request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The FHWA requests comments on a proposed revision to design 
standards and standard specifications that applies to new construction, 
reconstruction, resurfacing (except for maintenance resurfacing), 
restoration, and rehabilitation projects on the National Highway System 
(NHS). The proposed rule would incorporate by reference the latest 
versions of design standards and standard specifications previously 
adopted and incorporated by reference, and would remove the 
corresponding outdated or superseded versions of these standards and 
specifications. Use of the updated standards will be required for all 
NHS projects authorized to proceed with design activities on or after 
the effective date of the final rule.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before June 11, 2018. Late 
comments will be considered to the extent practicable.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
     Fax: 1-202-493-2251;
     Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket 
Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE Washington, DC 20590;
     Hand Delivery: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket 
Operations, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue SE Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday 
through Friday, except Federal holidays; or
     Electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: 
http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for 
submitting comments.
    Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name, docket 
name, and docket number (FHWA-2017-001) or Regulatory Identification 
Number (RIN) for this rulemaking (2125-AF72). Note that all comments 
received will be posted without change to: http://www.regulations.gov, 
including any personal information provided.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Elizabeth Hilton, Office of 
Program Administration (HIPA-20), (512) 536-5970, or via email at 
Elizabeth.Hilton@dot.gov, or Ms. Hannah Needleman, Office of the Chief 
Counsel (HCC-30), (202) 366-1345, or via email at 
Hannah.Needleman@dot.gov. Office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 
e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Electronic Access and Filing

    This document may be viewed online under the docket number noted 
above through the Federal eRulemaking portal at: http://www.regulations.gov. Electronic submission and retrieval help and 
guidelines are available on the website. It is available 24 hours each 
day, 365 days this year. Please follow the online instructions.
    An electronic copy of this document may also be downloaded from the 
Office of the Federal Register's website at: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register and the Government Publishing Office's website at: 
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys. In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT 
solicits comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking 
process. The DOT posts these comments, without edit, including any 
personal information the commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov, as 
described in the system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can 
be viewed at: www.dot.gov/privacy.
    Physical access to the Docket is available at the U.S. Department 
of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20950, between 
9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

Background

    The FHWA proposes to modify its regulations governing new 
construction, reconstruction, resurfacing (except for maintenance 
resurfacing), restoration, and rehabilitation projects on the NHS 
(including the Interstate System), by incorporating by reference the 
current versions of design standards and standard specifications 
previously adopted and incorporated by reference

[[Page 21973]]

under 23 CFR 625.4, and removing the outdated or superseded versions of 
these standards and specifications. Several of these design standards 
and standard specifications were established by the American 
Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and 
the American Welding Society (AWS) and were previously adopted by FHWA 
through rulemaking. The new standards or specifications replace 
previous versions of these documents and represent the most recent 
refinements that professional organizations have formally accepted. 
After review of the various standards and specifications, FHWA proposes 
to adopt them for NHS projects.
    The proposed revisions include referencing the 2016 edition of the 
AASHTO A Policy on Design Standards--Interstate System; the 2017 
edition of the AASHTO Standard Specifications for Transportation 
Materials and Methods of Sampling and Testing, and AASHTO Provisional 
Standards; the 2017 edition of the AASHTO Load and Resistance Factor 
Design (LRFD) Bridge Construction Specifications; the 2016 edition of 
the AASHTO/AWS D1.5M/D1.5: 2015 Bridge Welding Code; and the 2017 
edition of the AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications. The proposed 
revisions also include referencing the recent interim revisions of 
AASHTO's Standard Specifications for Structural Supports of Highway 
Signs, Luminaires, and Traffic Signals.
    The AASHTO is an organization that represents 52 State highway and 
transportation agencies (including the District of Columbia and Puerto 
Rico). Its members consist of the duly constituted heads and other 
chief officials of those agencies. The Secretary of Transportation is 
an ex-officio member, and DOT staff participates in various AASHTO 
activities as nonvoting representatives. Among other functions, AASHTO 
develops and issues standards, specifications, policies, guides, and 
related materials for use by the States for highway projects. Many of 
the standards, policies, and standard specifications that were approved 
by FHWA and incorporated into 23 CFR part 625 were developed and issued 
by AASHTO.
    While these adopted standards and specifications apply to all 
projects on the NHS (including the Interstate System), FHWA encourages 
the use of flexibility and a context-sensitive approach to consider a 
full range of project and user needs and the impacts to the community 
and natural and human environment. The FHWA also encourages State 
departments of transportation (State DOT) and local agencies to 
consider using design exceptions to achieve a design that balances 
project and user needs, performance, cost, environmental implications, 
and community values. These adopted design standards provide a range of 
acceptable values for highway features, and this flexibility should 
allow for a design that best suits the desires of the community while 
satisfying the purpose for the project and needs of its users.
    At a minimum, State DOTs and local agencies should select design 
values based on an evaluation of the context of the facility, needs of 
all the various project users, safety, mobility (i.e., traffic 
performance), human and natural environmental impacts, and project 
costs. For most situations, there is sufficient flexibility within the 
range of acceptable values to achieve a balanced design. However, when 
this is not possible, a design exception may be appropriate. State and 
local agencies may consider designs that deviate from the design 
standards when warranted based on the conditions, context, and 
consequences of the proposed projects. Additional information on FHWA's 
adopted design standards and design exceptions is available at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/design/standards and in FHWA's publication titled 
Mitigation Strategies for Design Exceptions, available at: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/geometric/pubs/mitigationstrategies/fhwa_sa_07011.pdf.

Discussion under 1 CFR part 51

    The documents that FHWA proposes to incorporate by reference are 
reasonably available to interested parties, primarily State DOTs and 
local agencies carrying out Federal-aid highway projects. These 
documents represent the most recent refinements that professional 
organizations have formally accepted and are currently in use by the 
transportation industry. The documents are also available for review at 
DOT's National Transportation Library or may be obtained from AASHTO or 
AWS. The specific standards are discussed in greater detail elsewhere 
in this preamble.

Section-by-Section Discussion of the Proposed Changes to 23 CFR 625

    The FHWA propose to remove the introductory text of Sec.  625.4. It 
is duplicative of information contained in paragraph (d) and does not 
meet Office of the Federal Register formatting requirements for 
incorporation by reference.
    The FHWA proposes to revise Sec.  625.4(a)(2) to replace the 
reference to the January 2005 edition of A Policy on Design Standards--
Interstate System with the May 2016 edition. This Policy is a 
comprehensive manual to assist State DOTs and local agencies in 
administrative, planning, and educational efforts pertaining to design 
formulation for projects on the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of 
Interstate and Defense Highways (Interstate). The AASHTO May 2016 
edition incorporates the latest research and current industry 
practices, and is applicable to new construction and reconstruction 
projects on the Interstate except in Alaska and Puerto Rico (23 U.S.C. 
103(c)(1)(B)(ii)). Resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation 
projects must meet the Interstate standards that were in place at the 
time of original construction or inclusion into the Interstate System. 
The updated guide clarifies ambiguities in the prior edition and 
provides additional flexibility regarding the design traffic volumes to 
be accommodated. It increases the median width in rural areas to reduce 
cross-median crashes and adds recommendations about extended access 
control and multimodal considerations at interchanges. Basic criteria 
for other geometric design standards remain essentially the same. The 
Agency considers the changes made in the 2016 version minor in nature.
    With respect to the design standards and standards specifications 
for bridges and structures under Sec.  625.4(b), FHWA generally 
proposes to adopt the current versions of the standards and 
specifications it has previously adopted from AASHTO and AWS. The 
updated documents contain changes that represent discoveries or 
improvements in the state-of-the-knowledge and practices of State DOTs 
and local agencies that have occurred since the previous standards and 
specifications were incorporated by reference into 23 CFR part 625.
    The FHWA proposes to revise Sec.  625.4(b)(2) to incorporate by 
reference the current version of the revised AASHTO bridge construction 
specifications entitled LRFD Bridge Construction Specifications, 4th 
Edition. These specifications, which are intended for use in the 
construction of bridges, employ the LRFD methodology and are designed 
to be used in conjunction with the below referenced AASHTO LRFD Bridge 
Design Specifications. Changes in the 4th Edition reflect the latest 
research and developments, and specifications promulgated by AASHTO.
    The FHWA proposes to revise Sec.  625.4(b)(3) to incorporate by 
reference the current version of the revised

[[Page 21974]]

AASHTO bridge design specifications entitled AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design 
Specifications, 8th Edition. The AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design 
Specifications are intended for use in the design, evaluation, and 
rehabilitation of bridges, and are mandated by the FHWA for use on all 
bridges using Federal funding. These Specifications employ the LRFD 
methodology using factors developing from current statistical knowledge 
of loads and structural performance. Changes in the 8th Edition reflect 
the latest research, developments, and specifications promulgated by 
AASHTO.
    The FHWA proposes to make a minor editorial correction to the 
reference to the LRFD Movable Highway Bridge Design Specifications 
referenced in paragraph Sec.  625.4(b)(4) to change ``including'' to 
``with'' when citing the Interim Revisions.
    The FHWA proposes to revise Sec.  625.4(b)(5) to incorporate by 
reference the current version of the revised AASHTO bridge welding code 
entitled AASHTO/AWS D1.5M/D1.5: 2015 Bridge Welding Code, 7th Edition; 
AASHTO, 2016. This document covers AASHTO welding requirements for 
welded highway bridges made from carbon and low-alloy construction 
steels. Chapters cover design of welded connections, workmanship, 
technique, procedure and performance qualification, inspection, and 
stud welding. Changes in the 7th Edition reflect the latest research, 
developments, and specifications promulgated by AASHTO and AWS.
    The FHWA proposes to revise Sec.  625.4(b)(7) to incorporate by 
reference the current version of the revised AASHTO structural support 
specification entitled Standard Specifications for Structural Supports 
for Highway Sign, Luminaires, and Traffic Signals, 6th Edition, AASHTO, 
2013, with 2015 Interim Revisions. These Standards are applicable to 
the structural design of supports for highway signs, luminaires, and 
traffic signals. The Standards are intended to serve as a standard and 
guide for the design, fabrication, and erection of these types of 
supports. Changes in the 2015 Interim Revisions reflect the latest 
research, developments, and specifications promulgated by AASHTO.
    The FHWA proposes to revise Sec.  625.4(c)(2) to incorporate by 
reference the current version of the revised AASHTO sampling and 
testing specification entitled Standard Specifications for 
Transportation Materials and Methods of Sampling and Testing, and 
AASHTO Provisional Standards, AASHTO, 2017. These Standards contain 
specifications, test methods, and provisional standards commonly used 
in the construction of highway facilities. This edition of the standard 
specifications will replace those adopted by AASHTO in 1995. Changes in 
the 2016 standard specifications reflect current materials and testing 
technologies and practices.
    The FHWA proposes to revise Sec.  625.4(c)(3) to update the title 
and cross-reference of the referenced regulation to ``Quality Assurance 
Procedures for Construction.''
    Use of the updated standards will be required for all NHS projects 
authorized to proceed with design activities on or after the effective 
date of the final rule, subject to the exceptions in 23 CFR 625.3(f).

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, 
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. A final rule may be published at any time after close of the 
comment period and after DOT has had the opportunity to review the 
comments submitted.

Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review), Executive Order 
13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review), Executive Order 
13771 (Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs), and USDOT 
Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    The FHWA has determined that this action does not constitute a 
significant regulatory action within the meaning of Executive Order 
(E.O.) 12866 or within the meaning of DOT regulatory policies and 
procedures. The proposed amendments would update several industry 
design standards and standard specifications adopted and incorporated 
by reference under 23 CFR part 625 and would remove the corresponding 
outdated or superseded versions of these standards and specifications. 
In addition, this action complies with the principles of E.O. 13563. 
After evaluating the costs and benefits of these proposed amendments, 
FHWA anticipates that the economic impact of this rulemaking would be 
minimal. These incremental changes are not anticipated to adversely 
affect, in any material way, any sector of the economy. In addition, 
these changes will not create a serious inconsistency with any other 
agency's action or materially alter the budgetary impact of any 
entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs. These updated 
standards and specifications represent the most recent refinements that 
professional organizations have formally accepted. The FHWA anticipates 
that the economic impact of this rulemaking will be minimal; therefore, 
a full regulatory evaluation is not necessary. Finally, this proposed 
rule is not an E.O. 13771 regulatory action because it is not 
significant under E.O. 12866.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    In compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (Pub. L. 96-354; 
5 U.S.C. 60l-612), FHWA has evaluated the effects of this proposed rule 
on small entities, such as local governments and businesses. Based on 
the evaluation, FHWA anticipates that this action would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
The proposed amendments would update several industry design standards 
and standard specifications adopted and incorporated by reference under 
23 CFR part 625. The FHWA believes the projected impact upon small 
entities that utilize Federal-aid highway program funding for the 
development of highway improvement projects on the NHS would be 
negligible. Therefore, I certify that the proposed action would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    The FHWA has determined that this NPRM would not impose unfunded 
mandates as defined by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. 
L. 104-4, March 22, 1995, 109 Stat. 48). The actions proposed in this 
NPRM would not result in the expenditure by State, local, and Tribal 
governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $155 
million or more in any 1 year (when adjusted for inflation) in 2014 
dollars for either State, local, and Tribal governments in the 
aggregate, or by the private sector. The FHWA will publish a final 
analysis, including its response to public comments, when it publishes 
a final rule. In addition, the definition of ``Federal Mandate'' in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act excludes financial assistance of the type 
in which State,

[[Page 21975]]

local, or Tribal governments have authority to adjust their 
participation in the program in accordance with changes made in the 
program by the Federal Government. The Federal-aid highway program 
permits this type of flexibility.

Executive Order 13132 (Federalism Assessment)

    The FHWA has analyzed this proposed rule in accordance with the 
principles and criteria contained in E.O. 13132. The FHWA has 
determined that this action would not have sufficient federalism 
implications to warrant the preparation of a federalism assessment. The 
FHWA has also determined that this action would not preempt any State 
law or State regulation or affect the States' ability to discharge 
traditional State governmental functions.

Executive Order 12372 (Intergovernmental Review)

    The regulations implementing E.O. 12372 regarding intergovernmental 
consultation on Federal programs and activities apply to this program. 
This E.O. applies because State and local governments would be directly 
affected by the proposed regulation, which is a condition on Federal 
highway funding. Local entities should refer to the Catalog of Federal 
Domestic Assistance Program Number 20.205, Highway Planning and 
Construction, for further information.

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 for each collection of information they conduct, 
sponsor, or require through regulations. The FHWA has determined that 
the proposed rule does not contain collection of information 
requirements for the purposes of the PRA.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The FHWA has analyzed this proposed rule for the purposes of the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321, et seq.) and 
has determined that this action would not have any effect on the 
quality of the human and natural environment because it only would make 
technical changes and incorporate by reference the latest versions of 
design standards and standard specifications previously adopted and 
incorporated by reference under 23 CFR part 625 and would remove the 
corresponding outdated or superseded versions of these standards and 
specifications. The proposed rule qualifies as a categorical exclusion 
to NEPA under 23 CFR 771.117(c)(20).

Executive Order 13175 (Tribal Consultation)

    The FHWA has analyzed this proposed rule under EO13175, and 
believes that it would not have substantial direct effects on one or 
more Indian Tribes, would not impose substantial direct compliance 
costs on Indian Tribal governments, and would not preempt Tribal law. 
This proposed rule would not impose any direct compliance requirements 
on Indian Tribal governments nor would it have any economic or other 
impacts on the viability of Indian Tribes. Therefore, a Tribal summary 
impact statement is not required.

Executive Order 13211 (Energy Effects)

    The FHWA has analyzed this proposed rule under E.O. 13211, Actions 
Concerning Regulations that Significantly Affect Energy Supply, 
Distribution, or Use. The FHWA has determined that this proposed action 
is not a significant energy action under the E.O. and is not likely to 
have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use 
of energy. Therefore, a Statement of Energy Effects is not required.

Executive Order 12630 (Taking of Private Property)

    The FHWA has analyzed this proposed rule under E.O. 12630, 
Governmental Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected 
Property Rights. The FHWA does not anticipate that this proposed action 
would effect a taking of private property or otherwise have taking 
implications under E.O. 12630.

Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform)

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

Executive Order 13045 (Protection of Children)

    The FHWA has analyzed this proposed action under E.O. 13045, 
Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety 
Risks. The FHWA certifies that this proposed action would not cause an 
environmental risk to health or safety that may disproportionately 
affect children.

Executive Order 12898 (Environmental Justice)

    The E.O. 12898 requires that each Federal Agency make achieving 
environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and 
addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human 
health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and 
activities on minorities and low-income populations. The FHWA has 
determined that this rule does not raise any environmental justice 
issues.

Regulation Identifier Number

    A Regulation Identifier 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 number 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 625: Design standards, Grant 
programs-transportation, Highways and roads, Incorporation by 
reference.

    Issued on: April 30, 2018.
Brandye L. Hendrickson,
Acting Administrator, Federal Highway Administration.
    In consideration of the foregoing, FHWA proposes to amend 23 CFR 
part 625 as follows:

PART 625--DESIGN STANDARDS FOR HIGHWAYS

0
1. The authority citation for part 625 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  23 U.S.C. 109, 315, and 402; Sec. 1073 of Pub. L. 
102-240, 105 Stat. 1914, 2012; 49 CFR 1.48(b) and (n).
0
2. Amend Sec.  625.4 by;
0
a. Removing the introductory text;
0
b. Revising paragraphs (a)(2), (b)(2) through (5), (7), (c)(2) and (3), 
(d)(1)(ii), (iv) through (viii);
0
c. Adding paragraph (d)(1)(ix), and
0
d. Revising the introductory text of (d)(2).
    The revision and additions read as follows:


Sec.  625.4  Standards, policies, and standard specifications.

    (a) * * *
    (2) A Policy on Design Standards--Interstate System, AASHTO, May 
2016 (incorporated by reference; see Sec.  625.4(d)).
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) AASHTO LRFD Bridge Construction Specifications, 4th Edition, 
AASHTO, 2017 (incorporated by reference; see Sec.  625.4(d)).
    (3) AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications, 8th Edition, AASHTO,

[[Page 21976]]

2017 (incorporated by reference; see Sec.  625.4(d)).
    (4) AASHTO LRFD Movable Highway Bridge Design Specifications, 2nd 
Edition, AASHTO, 2007, with 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2015 
Interim Revisions, (incorporated by reference; see Sec.  625.4(d)).
    (5) AASHTO/AWS D1.5M/D1.5:2015 Bridge Welding Code, 7th Edition, 
AASHTO, 2016 (incorporated by reference; see Sec.  625.4(d)).
* * * * *
    (7) Standard Specifications for Structural Supports for Highway 
Signs, Luminaires, and Traffic Signals, 6th Edition, AASHTO, 2013, with 
2015 Interim Revisions (incorporated by reference; see Sec.  625.4(d)).
* * * * *
    (c) Materials.
* * * * *
    (2) Standard Specifications for Transportation Materials and 
Methods of Sampling and Testing, and AASHTO Provisional Standards, 
AASHTO, 2017. (incorporated by reference, see Sec.  625.4(d)(1)).
    (3) Quality Assurance Procedures for Construction, refer to 23 CFR 
part 637, subpart B.
    (d) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) A Policy on Design Standards--Interstate System, May 2016.
* * * * *
    (iv) AASHTO LRFD Bridge Construction Specifications, 4th Edition, 
2017.
    (v) AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications, 8th Edition, 2017.
    (vi) AASHTO LRFD Movable Highway Bridge Design Specifications, 2nd 
Edition, 2007; with 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2015 Interim 
Revisions.
    (vii) AASHTO/AWS D1.5M/D1.5: 2015 Bridge Welding Code, 7th Edition, 
2016.
    (viii) Standard Specifications for Structural Supports for Highway 
Signs, Luminaires, and Traffic Signals, 6th Edition, 2013; with 2015 
Interim Revisions.
    (ix) Standard Specifications for Transportation Materials and 
Methods of Sampling and Testing, and AASHTO Provisional Standards, 
AASHTO, 2017.
    (2) American Welding Society (AWS), 8669 NW 36 Street, # 130 Miami, 
FL 33166-6672; www.aws.org; or (800) 443-9353 or (305) 443-9353.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2018-09609 Filed 5-10-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-22-P