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Design Standards for Highways


American Government

Design Standards for Highways

Nicole R. Nason
Federal Highway Administration
24 November 2020


[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 227 (Tuesday, November 24, 2020)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 74934-74940]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-25679]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration

23 CFR Part 625

[Docket No. FHWA-2019-0030]
RIN 2125-AF88


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: FHWA requests comments on a proposed revision to the design 
standards and standard specifications applicable to new construction, 
reconstruction, resurfacing (except for maintenance resurfacing), 
restoration, and rehabilitation projects on the National Highway System 
(NHS). The proposed rule would allow States to undertake resurfacing, 
restoration, and rehabilitation (RRR) projects on freeways, including 
Interstate highways. 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corresponding outdated or superseded versions of these standards and 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.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before December 24, 2020. 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-AF88). Note that all comments 
received will be posted without change to: http://www.regulations.gov, 
including any personal information provided.

[[Page 74935]]


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Elizabeth Hilton, Office of 
Preconstruction, Construction and Pavements (HICP-10), (202) 924-8618, 
or via email at Elizabeth.Hilton@dot.gov, or Mr. Lev Gabrilovich, 
Office of the Chief Counsel (HCC-30), (202) 366-3813, or via email at 
Lev.Gabrilovich@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. 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), FHWA 
solicits comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking 
process. FHWA 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 and Legal Authority

    Pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 315 and under the authority delegated to FHWA 
in 49 CFR 1.85, FHWA proposes to modify its regulations governing 
design standards for new construction, reconstruction, resurfacing 
(except for maintenance resurfacing), restoration, and rehabilitation 
projects on the NHS (including the Interstate System). This rulemaking 
is not expressly required by statute. However, this rulemaking is 
necessary to implement provisions of 23 U.S.C. 109 regarding design 
standards and criteria.
    State departments of transportation (State DOTs) are tasked with 
preserving the safety and usability of a vast network of existing 
highways. FHWA's existing design standards require State DOTs to meet 
new construction standards on freeway RRR projects, unless a design 
exception is approved. Recent national research has provided a better 
understanding of the relationship between geometric design features and 
crash frequency and severity. Therefore, to improve the efficiency of 
developing RRR projects on existing freeways, FHWA proposes to allow 
State DOTs to adopt procedures or design criteria, as approved by FHWA, 
that would enable the State to undertake RRR projects on freeways, 
including Interstate highways, without utilizing design exceptions. 
FHWA also proposes to incorporate by reference updated versions of 
design standards and standard specifications previously adopted and 
incorporated by reference under 23 CFR part 625.4, and to remove the 
corresponding 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. (83 FR 
54876; November 1, 2018). 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. FHWA has historically incorporated many AASHTO 
standards, policies, and standard specifications in 23 CFR part 625. 
AWS is a nonprofit organization known for its code and certification 
procedures, providing industry standards for welding, including in the 
transportation field. AWS reports about 66,000 members worldwide and 
develops updated materials for welding professionals and other 
interested parties, including those related to bridge welding and 
structural welding.
    The new standards or specifications replace previous versions of 
these standards or specifications 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 adopting the 2018 edition of the 
AASHTO A Policy on Geometric Design Highways and Streets (Green Book); 
the 2016 second printing of the AWS D1.1/D1.1M:2015 Structural Welding 
Code--Steel; the 2018 Interim Revisions to the AASHTO Load and 
Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) Movable Highway Bridge Design 
Specifications; the 2019 and 2020 Interim Revisions to the AASHTO 
Standard Specifications for Structural Supports for Highway Signs, 
Luminaires and Traffic Signals; and the 2019 and 2020 Interim Revisions 
to the AASHTO LRFD Specifications for Structural Supports for Highway 
Signs, Luminaires, and Traffic Signals. FHWA proposes to delete the 
incorporation by reference of the 2018 Interim Revisions to the AASHTO/
AWS D1.5M/D1.5: 2015-AMD1, Bridge Welding Code and the AASHTO Standard 
Specifications for Transportation Materials and Methods of Sampling and 
Testing. Each of these standards is discussed in more detail below.
    These proposed standards and specifications apply to all projects 
on the NHS (including the Interstate System). FHWA also 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. These proposed design standards provide 
a range of acceptable values for highway features, allowing for 
flexibility that best suits the desires of the community while 
satisfying the purpose for the project and needs of its users.
    State DOTs and local agencies should select design values based on 
factors including 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. Since 1985, FHWA has designated 
the criteria that have the most impact on roadway safety and operations 
as ``controlling criteria.'' (81 FR 27187; May 5, 2016). 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. FHWA encourages State DOTs and 
local agencies to document design decisionmaking, particularly when 
standards cannot be met. Additional information on FHWA's adopted 
design standards and design exceptions is available at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/design/standards.

[[Page 74936]]

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 
FHWA Headquarters 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 Part 
625

    FHWA proposes to revise 23 CFR 625.2(b), 625.3(a)(1), and 
625.4(a)(3) to allow States to adopt procedures or design criteria, as 
approved by FHWA, that would enable the State to undertake RRR work on 
all NHS roadways without utilizing design exceptions. Under 23 U.S.C. 
109(a), the Secretary must ensure proposed highway projects are 
designed and constructed in accordance with criteria best suited to 
serve adequately the existing and planned future traffic of the highway 
in a manner that is conducive to safety, durability, and economy of 
maintenance. More than 20 years ago, FHWA had opined that the 
application of standards other than those for new construction or 
reconstruction projects on freeway facilities might compromise safety 
and was not considered appropriate. (62 FR 15392; April 1, 1997). Since 
that time, national research has provided a better understanding of the 
relationship between geometric design features and crash frequency and 
severity. Much of this information is presented in the AASHTO Highway 
Safety Manual (www.highwaysafetymanual.org), which incorporates the 
findings of extensive research on various roadway types and issues. As 
a result, the practice of roadway design is changing to a more 
performance-based, flexible approach, particularly for RRR projects. 
This performance-based approach has been advanced under several 
research projects conducted by the National Cooperative Highway 
Research Program (NCHRP) as documented in NCHRP Report 839: A 
Performance-Based Highway Geometric Design Process (http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/175375.aspx), NCHRP Report 785: Performance-Based 
Analysis of Geometric Design of Highways and Streets (http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/171431.aspx), and NCHRP Report 876: 
Guidelines for Integrating Safety and Cost-Effectiveness into 
Resurfacing, Restoration, and Rehabilitation (3R) Projects (http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/177914.aspx). Rather than focusing solely on 
meeting dimensional design criteria, RRR projects can be developed 
based on project-specific conditions and existing and expected future 
roadway performance. State DOTs operating under constrained budgets can 
make the best use of limited resources by developing RRR projects on 
all classes of roadways, including freeways, to maximize the safety and 
operational benefit of the overall transportation network.
    In Sec.  625.3(a)(1), FHWA proposes revisions necessary to update 
the regulation in accordance with 23 U.S.C. 109(c)(1), as amended by 
section 1404(a) of the 2015 Fixing America's Surface Transportation 
(FAST) Act. Revisions include changing these factors from optional to 
mandatory consideration, and the addition of a new factor to consider--
the cost savings that can be achieved by utilizing flexibility that 
exists in current design guidance and regulations.
    FHWA proposes new paragraph (a)(3) to add to the regulation a long-
standing exception to the Interstate design standards for Alaska and 
Puerto Rico, found in 23 U.S.C. 103(c)(1)(B)(ii).
    FHWA proposes new paragraph (a)(4) to incorporate the provisions of 
FAST Act section 1404(b) that allow, if certain conditions are met, a 
local jurisdiction that is a direct recipient of Federal funds to 
design a project using a roadway design publication that is different 
from the roadway design publication used by the State in which the 
local jurisdiction resides. One of the statutory requirements is that 
the roadway design publication must be recognized by FHWA. For the 
purpose of implementing section 1404(b), the design publications that 
FHWA currently recognizes are those listed in either the FHWA 
Memorandum dated August 20, 2013, regarding Bicycle and Pedestrian 
Facility Design Flexibility (available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/guidance/design_flexibility.cfm) or the related 
Questions and Answers (Q&As) (available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/guidance/design_flexibility_qa.cfm).
    In 23 CFR 625.3(f), FHWA proposes to establish, in paragraph 
(f)(2), as redesignated, a programmatic exception for the limited 
purpose of allowing States to use a more recent edition of a standard 
or specification adopted in Sec.  625.4(d). This change will remove an 
administrative barrier to utilization of most recent refinements that 
professional organizations have formally accepted. FHWA intends to 
retain approval for such a programmatic exception at the appropriate 
Headquarters program office to ensure that the agency is satisfied that 
interim implementation of a new edition is in the public interest. In 
addition, FHWA proposes to revise Sec.  625.3(f)(1)(i), as 
redesignated, to clarify that the provisions governing project 
exceptions only apply to projects on the NHS because States may develop 
their own standards for projects not on the NHS under Sec.  625.3(a)(2) 
and 23 U.S.C. 109(o).
    In Sec.  625.4, FHWA proposes to incorporate by reference the 
updated versions of design standards and standard specifications 
previously adopted and incorporated by reference, and to remove the 
corresponding outdated or superseded versions of these standards and 
specifications. In addition, FHWA proposes to delete two previously 
adopted specifications and add one new specification.
    In Sec.  625.4(a)(1), FHWA proposes to remove the edition and date 
from the AASHTO A Policy on Geometric Design Highways and Streets 
because the edition and date are more properly included in paragraph 
(d)(1)(i) of this section.
    In Sec.  625.4(a)(3), FHWA proposes to focus on statewide 
procedures and design criteria because under risk-based stewardship and 
oversight, design plans for individual RRR projects are typically 
delegated to the State. In addition, FHWA proposes to clarify that, if 
a State does not adopt design procedures or criteria for RRR projects 
as approved by FHWA, the standards listed in paragraphs (a)(1) and 
(a)(2) shall apply. This change is consistent with current practice.
    In Sec.  625.4(b)(7), FHWA proposes to insert ``AASHTO'' in front 
of the name of the two documents incorporated by reference for clarity.
    In Sec.  625.4(b)(9) and (d)(2)(ii), FHWA proposes to incorporate a 
new reference to the AWS D1.1/D1.1M:2015 Structural Welding Code--Steel 
because many projects require welding of miscellaneous metal components 
for items such as light poles, sign supports, and railings. FHWA adopts 
minimum design standards to ensure the safety of the transportation 
infrastructure by ensuring all fabrication and manufacturing processes 
are performed to an acceptable standard. For instance, the AASHTO/AWS 
D1.5/D1.5M Bridge Welding Code is a minimum standard to ensure all 
steel bridges are welded to a standard that covers welding

[[Page 74937]]

consumables, welding procedure requirements, qualification 
requirements, personal requirements, inspection and acceptance 
criteria. However, numerous transportation products are not covered by 
the Bridge Welding Code including light poles, high mast towers, sign 
structures, guard rail systems, and even pedestrian bridges. Because 
these other product types are not covered by the Bridge Welding Code, 
and because they are in or over the right-of-way, they should be 
fabricated or manufactured to a minimum design standard, and FHWA 
proposes the AWS D1.1/D1.1M:2015 Structural Welding Code-Steel. The 
Structural Welding Code-Steel provides many similar requirements in the 
Bridge Welding Code but is applicable to the other product types not 
covered specifically by the Bridge Welding Code.
    In Sec.  625.4(c)(2) and (d)(1)(x), FHWA proposes to delete the 
reference to the AASHTO Standard Specifications for Transportation 
Materials and Methods of Sampling and Testing (described as 
``Transportation Materials'' in the existing text). This AASHTO 
publication covers a broad range of material specifications and testing 
procedures. While these standards represent effective, nationally 
recognized practices, adherence to these standards is not mandatory in 
all circumstances. Removal of these standards from the incorporation by 
reference is meant to clarify that use of these standards is not a 
mandatory requirement as a design standard for highways covered in this 
part. Some of these material specifications and testing procedures 
remain individually incorporated by reference in other parts of this 
title.
    In Sec.  625.4(d)(1)(i), FHWA proposes to adopt the 2018 edition of 
the AASHTO A Policy on Geometric Design Highways and Streets (Green 
Book), replacing the 2011 edition. The Green Book provides geometric 
design guidance based on established practices that are supplemented by 
recent research. The 2018 edition of the Green Book incorporates the 
latest research and current industry practices, and is primarily 
applicable to new construction and reconstruction projects. It 
emphasizes the need to utilize a flexible design approach to balance 
the needs of all users and modes of travel. It expands project context 
categories from two to five--adding rural town, suburban, and urban 
core to the previous contexts of urban and rural. It incorporates a 
performance-based approach for considering the effects of geometric 
design decisions. It better describes the various types of projects--
new construction, reconstruction, and projects on existing roads where 
the basic road type is unchanged--and provides design flexibility for 
each project type. This third project type is similar to what has 
historically been referred to as RRR projects. FHWA continues to use 
the term RRR in this part to be consistent with language in title 23 of 
the U.S. Code. Although AASHTO does not define the phrase ``change in 
basic road type,'' FHWA generally interprets this phrase to include 
projects that change the general geometric character of a highway, such 
as widening to provide additional through motor vehicle lanes, widening 
to add a raised or depressed median where none currently exists, and 
projects that substantially modify horizontal or vertical alignments. 
Road changes that are accomplished with no, or only minimal, widening, 
such as lane reconfigurations (road diets), adding turn lanes, adding 
channelizing islands, or adding median curbs for access management are 
not considered a ``change in the basic road type.'' In addition, for 
the purposes of determining geometric design criteria when applying the 
2018 Green Book, full-depth pavement replacement projects that retain 
existing geometrics are not considered a ``change in the basic road 
type.'' Under a performance-based design approach, the scope of 
geometric improvements for projects on existing roads that retain the 
existing basic road type should be driven by past safety and 
operational performance and predicted future performance. Consistent 
with 23 U.S.C. 109(n), RRR projects must preserve and extend the 
service life of the existing road and enhance highway safety.
    In Sec.  625.4(d)(1)(vi), FHWA proposes to add the 2018 Interim 
Revisions to the AASHTO LRFD Movable Highway Bridge Design 
Specifications. These standards are applicable to the design of bridge 
spans, mechanical systems (motors, hydraulics, etc.), electrical 
systems, and bridge protection systems for movable highway bridges. 
Changes in the 2018 Interim Revisions reflect the latest research, 
developments, and specifications promulgated by AASHTO and includes 
important updates to the provisions for the mechanical and structural 
design requirements for span lock devices.
    In Sec.  625.4(d)(1)(vii)(A), FHWA proposes to delete the 2018 
Interim Revisions to the AASHTO/AWS D1.5M/D1.5: 2015-AMD1, Bridge 
Welding Code. This interim revision was provided by AASHTO to owners 
and fabricators for informational purposes only to alert them to 
proposed revisions to the AASHTO/AWS D1.5M/D1.5:2015 Bridge Welding 
Code. AASHTO will not officially revise the Bridge Welding Code until 
they have gone through the complete AWS consensus review and approval 
process and final changes are incorporated into the next published 
edition of the AASHTO/AWS D1.5M/D1.5 Bridge Welding Code. FHWA proposes 
to allow the use of the interim revisions, but not to adopt them as a 
minimum design standard.
    In Sec.  625.4(d)(1)(viii), FHWA proposes to add the 2019 and 2020 
Interim Revisions to the AASHTO Standard Specifications for Structural 
Supports for Highway Signs, Luminaires and Traffic Signals. In Sec.  
625.4(d)(1)(ix), FHWA proposes to add the 2019 and 2020 Interim 
Revisions to the AASHTO LRFD Specifications for Structural Supports for 
Highway Signs, Luminaires, and Traffic Signals. These standards are 
applicable to the structural design of supports for highway signs, 
luminaires, and traffic signals. They are intended to serve as a 
standard and guide for the design, fabrication, and erection of these 
types of supports. Changes in the 2019 and 2020 Interim Revisions to 
both publications reflect the latest research, developments, and 
specifications promulgated by AASHTO and address items such as 
providing updated dimensional and detailing requirements for certain 
support connections to control fatigue and providing updated 
requirements on the testing of welds in certain connections.
    Use of the updated standards will be required for all NHS projects 
authorized to proceed with design activities on or after 1 year 
following the effective date of the final rule, unless an extension is 
granted for unique or extenuating circumstances.

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 may be interested in continuing to examine the 
docket for new material. A final rule may be published at any time 
after close of the comment period and after FHWA has

[[Page 74938]]

had the opportunity to review the comments submitted.

Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review), Executive Order 
13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review), and DOT Regulatory 
Policies and Procedures

    FHWA has determined preliminarily 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's regulatory 
policies and procedures. This action complies with E.O.s 12866, 13563, 
and 13771 to improve regulation. The proposed amendments would allow 
the development of RRR procedures or design criteria for projects on 
freeways and 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.
    After evaluating the costs and benefits of these proposed 
amendments, FHWA does not have the data to quantify anticipated cost 
savings but anticipates that the economic impact of this rulemaking 
would be minimal. Based on project data captured in FHWA's Fiscal 
Management Information System (FMIS) from October 2014 to September 
2018, an average of 2,379 Interstate and freeway projects (totaling $86 
billion) on the NHS were authorized for construction each year. Of 
those projects, an average of 261 projects per year were coded by the 
States as being reconstruction projects with no added capacity (FMIS 
Improvement Code 04) and 424 projects per year were coded as being 
restoration and rehabilitation projects (FMIS Improvement Code 06). 
Under this proposal, we estimate that all projects in both categories, 
an average of 685 projects (totaling $18.5 billion) per year, would be 
eligible to be designed to State-specific RRR standards, rather than to 
new construction standards as currently required. However, existing 
regulations allow for States to seek design exceptions when the 
standards cannot be met. FHWA recognizes that, on many existing 
freeways, it is often not possible to widen the roadway and flatten 
curves to meet new construction standards due to context-specific 
considerations. Absent existing or anticipated safety or operational 
problems, FHWA expects that State DOTs generally pursue design 
exceptions to make the best use of limited resources.
    FHWA does not have data to determine how many of the 685 projects 
per year do not meet the new construction standard through the 
implementation of design exceptions, nor does FHWA have data to 
demonstrate how many hours State DOTs spend developing design exception 
requests on freeway projects undertaken to perform RRR-type work (FMIS 
Improvement Codes 04 and 06). FHWA requests that State DOTs provide 
comments to the docket if they have any data that would be relevant to 
this analysis. Specifically, FHWA seeks data on (1) the percentage of 
RRR-type freeway projects developed by State DOTs that utilized a 
design exception because the project could not meet a new construction 
standard, (2) the average number of employee hours spent developing, 
reviewing, and approving each design exception, (3) the average hourly 
compensation of employees involved with these design exception 
activities, (4) reasons for requesting exceptions (operational, safety, 
resource constraint, innovation, etc.), and (5) cost savings associated 
with the proposed design exception.
    Most State DOTs already have staff dedicated to developing RRR 
standards for non-freeway projects, and any additional staff time 
needed to develop RRR standards for freeways is anticipated to be 
minimal. The National Cooperative Highway Research Program recently 
released a pre-publication version of Research Report 876 entitled 
``Guidelines for Integrating Safety and Cost-Effectiveness into 
Resurfacing, Restoration, and Rehabilitation (3R) Projects,'' which 
provides guidance and assistance to States for developing these 
standards. See http://www.trb.org/NCHRP/Blurbs/177914.aspx. Under this 
proposal, the resulting design of the freeway project is anticipated to 
be the same, but FHWA expects that net cost savings will be realized by 
allowing the States to develop their own standards and eliminate the 
need for many design exceptions.
    FHWA does not anticipate any cost or safety impacts due to removing 
the AASHTO Standard Specifications for Transportation Materials and 
Methods of Sampling and Testing and the 2018 Interim Revisions to the 
AASHTO/AWS D1.5M/D1.5: 2015-AMD1, Bridge Welding Code from the list of 
standards incorporated by reference. Nor does FHWA anticipate any cost 
or safety impacts due to incorporating by reference the AWS D1.1/D1.1M: 
Structural Welding Code--Steel, as most States are already using this 
standard for the welding of miscellaneous structural steel items. FHWA 
anticipates that the economic impact of updating several industry 
design standards and standard specifications adopted and incorporated 
by reference would be minimal. These updated standards and 
specifications represent the most recent refinements that professional 
organizations have formally accepted and are widely used for projects 
off the NHS.
    For these reasons, FHWA finds that the expected economic benefits 
of the proposed rule will outweigh the estimated costs of the proposed 
rule. The proposed 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. FHWA anticipates that the economic impact 
of this rulemaking will be minimal; therefore, a full regulatory 
evaluation is not necessary.

Executive Order 13771 (Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory 
Costs)

    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. 601-612), 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. 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, 
FHWA certifies that the proposed action would not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    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

[[Page 74939]]

governments in the aggregate, or by the private sector. 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, 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)

    FHWA has analyzed this proposed rule in accordance with the 
principles and criteria contained in E.O. 13132. FHWA has determined 
that this action would not have sufficient federalism implications to 
warrant the preparation of a federalism assessment. 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. FHWA has determined that the 
proposed rule does not contain collection of information requirements 
for the purposes of the PRA.

National Environmental Policy Act

    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)

    FHWA has analyzed this proposed rule under E.O. 13175, 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.

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 
the spring and fall 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 under authority delegated in 49 CFR 1.85.
Nicole R. Nason,
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. Revise the authority citation for part 625 to read as follows:

    Authority:  23 U.S.C. 103, 109, 315, and 402; Sec. 1073 of Pub. 
L. 102-240, 105 Stat. 1914, 2012; Sec. 1404 of Pub. L. 114-94, 129 
Stat. 1312; 49 CFR 1.85.

0
2. Amend Sec.  625.2 by revising the first sentence of paragraph (b) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  625.2   Policy.

* * * * *
    (b) Resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation (RRR) projects 
shall be constructed in accordance with standards that preserve and 
extend the service life of highways and enhance highway safety. * * *
* * * * *
0
3. Amend Sec.  625.3 by:
0
a. Revising paragraph (a)(1) introductory text and (a)(1)(ii) and 
(iii);
0
b. Adding paragraphs (a)(1)(iv) and (a)(3) and (4); and
0
c. Revising paragraphs (f)(1) and (2).
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  625.3   Application.

    (a) * * *
    (1) Design and construction standards for new construction, 
reconstruction, resurfacing (except for maintenance resurfacing), 
restoration, or rehabilitation of a highway on the NHS shall be those 
approved by the Secretary in cooperation with the State DOTs. These 
standards must consider, in addition to the criteria described in Sec.  
625.2(a), the following:
* * * * *
    (ii) The environmental, scenic, aesthetic, historic, community, and 
preservation impacts of the activity;
    (iii) Cost savings by utilizing flexibility that exists in current 
design guidance and regulations; and
    (iv) Access for other modes of transportation.
* * * * *
    (3) Interstate highways located in Alaska and Puerto Rico shall be 
designed in accordance with such geometric and construction standards 
as are adequate for current and probable future traffic demands and the 
needs of the locality of the highway.
    (4) A State may allow a local jurisdiction to design a project 
using a roadway design publication that is different from the roadway 
design publication used by the State in which the local jurisdiction 
resides if--
    (i) The local jurisdiction is a direct recipient of Federal funds 
for the project;
    (ii) The roadway design publication is adopted by the local 
jurisdiction and recognized by FHWA;
    (iii) The design complies with all applicable Federal laws and 
regulations; and
    (iv) The project is located on a roadway that is owned by the local 
jurisdiction and is not part of the Interstate system.
* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (1) Project exception. (i) Approval within the delegated authority 
provided by FHWA Order M1100.1A may be given on a project basis to 
designs on

[[Page 74940]]

the NHS which do not conform to the minimum criteria as set forth in 
the standards, policies, and standard specifications for:
    (A) Experimental features on projects; and
    (B) Projects where conditions warrant that exceptions be made.
    (ii) The determination to approve a project design that does not 
conform to the minimum criteria is to be made only after due 
consideration is given to all project conditions such as maximum 
service and safety benefits for the dollar invested, compatibility with 
adjacent sections of roadway and the probable time before 
reconstruction of the section due to increased traffic demands or 
changed conditions.
    (2) Programmatic exception. Approval within the delegated authority 
provided by FHWA Order M1100.1A may be given, on a programmatic basis, 
a more recent edition of any standard or specification incorporated by 
reference under Sec.  625.4(d).
0
4. Amend Sec.  625.4 by;
0
a. Revising paragraphs (a)(1) and (3) and (b)(7);
0
b. Adding paragraph (b)(9);
0
c. Removing paragraph (c)(2) and redesignating paragraph (c)(3) as 
paragraph (c)(2);
0
d. Revising the last sentence in the paragraph (d) introductory text 
and paragraph (d)(1)(i);
0
e. Revising paragraphs (d)(1)(vi)(E) and (F) and adding paragraph 
(d)(1)(vi)(G);
0
f. Revising paragraphs (d)(1)(vii);
0
g. Revising paragraph (viii)(A) and adding paragraphs (d)(1)(viii)(B) 
and (C);
0
h. Revising paragraphs (d)(1)(ix)(A) and (B) and adding paragraphs 
(d)(1)(ix)(C) and (D);
0
i. Removing paragraph (d)(1)(x); and
0
j. Redesignating paragraph (d)(2)(i) as paragraph (d)(2)(ii), and 
adding new paragraph (d)(2)(i).
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  625.4   Standards, policies, and standard specifications.

    (a) * * *
    (1) A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, AASHTO 
(paragraph (d) of this section).
* * * * *
    (3) The geometric design standards for resurfacing, restoration, 
and rehabilitation (RRR) projects on NHS highways shall be the 
procedures or the design criteria established for individual projects, 
groups of projects, or all RRR projects in a State, and as approved by 
FHWA. The RRR design standards shall reflect the consideration of the 
traffic, safety, economic, physical, community, and environmental needs 
of the projects. If a State does not adopt design procedures or 
criteria for RRR projects as approved by FHWA, the standards listed in 
paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) of this section shall apply.
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (7) AASHTO Standard Specifications for Structural Supports for 
Highway Signs, Luminaires, and Traffic Signals, (paragraph (d) of this 
section); or AASHTO LRFD Specifications for Structural Supports for 
Highway Signs, Luminaires, and Traffic Signals (paragraph (d) of this 
section).
* * * * *
    (9) AWS D1.1/D1.1M Structural Welding Code--Steel (paragraph (d) of 
this section).
* * * * *
    (d) * * * For information on the availability of this material at 
NARA, email fedreg.legal@nara.gov or go to www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibr-locations.html.
    (1) * * *
    (i) A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, 7th 
Edition, 2018.
* * * * *
    (vi) * * *
    (E) Interim Revisions, 2014,
    (F) Interim Revisions, 2015, and
    (G) Interim Revisions, 2018.
    (vii) AASHTO/AWS D1.5M/D1.5: 2015-AMD1, Bridge Welding Code, 
Amendment: Second Printing December 12, 2016.
    (viii) * * *
    (A) AASHTO LTS-6-I1, 2015 Interim Revisions to Standard 
Specifications for Structural Supports for Highway Signs, Luminaires, 
and Traffic Signals, copyright 2014,
    (B) AASHTO LTS-6-I2-OL, 2019 Interim Revisions to Standard 
Specifications for Structural Supports for Highway Signs, Luminaires, 
and Traffic Signals, copyright 2018, and
    (C) AASHTO LTS-6-I3-OL, 2020 Interim Revisions to Standard 
Specifications for Structural Supports for Highway Signs, Luminaires, 
and Traffic Signals, copyright 2019.
    (ix) * * *
    (A) AASHTO LRFDLTS-1-I1-OL, 2017 Interim Revisions to LRFD 
Specifications for Structural Supports for Highway Signs, Luminaires, 
and Traffic Signals, copyright 2016,
    (B) AASHTO LRFDLTS-1-I2-OL, 2018 Interim Revisions to LRFD 
Specifications for Structural Supports for Highway Signs, Luminaires, 
and Traffic Signals, copyright 2017,
    (C) AASHTO LRFDLTS-1-I3-OL, 2019 Interim Revisions to LRFD 
Specifications for Structural Supports for Highway Signs, Luminaires, 
and Traffic Signals, copyright 2018, and
    (D) AASHTO LRFDLTS-1-I4-OL, 2020 Interim Revisions to LRFD 
Specifications for Structural Supports for Highway Signs, Luminaires, 
and Traffic Signals, copyright 2019.
    (2) * * *
    (i) D1.1/D1.1M:2015 Structural Welding Code--Steel, Second 
printing, copyright 2016, and
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2020-25679 Filed 11-23-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-22-P

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