ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner this week submitted comments to the Federal Register on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Review of its General Applicability Waiver of Buy America Requirements for Manufactured Products.
“ATSSA strongly urges FHWA to continue the current public interest waiver for manufactured products that do not contain iron or steel,” ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner said in the ATSSA submission. “Especially with the challenge of increasing traffic fatalities in recent years, it is not an appropriate time to potentially hamstring the ability to deploy life-saving devices and countermeasures on U.S. roadways when the [U.S. Department of Transportation USDOT] and state and local agencies are aggressively moving to combat these fatalities.
“If, however, FHWA proposes to alter the current waiver, ATSSA strongly encourages FHWA to continue to exempt transportation products that are incorporated into highway safety improvement projects as defined in 23 U.S.C. 148, regardless of federal program funding source.”
Tetschner noted in the submission addressed to FHWA Administrator Shailen Bhatt that ATSSA members generally favor increasing capacity to procure domestically-sourced construction materials and manufactured products for use on surface transportation projects.
He noted that traffic fatalities are at an unacceptable level nationwide and that the USDOT National Roadway Safety Strategy recognizes that. He also acknowledged that USDOT, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and FHWA are committed to combatting traffic fatalities and moving Toward Zero Deaths.
“It is critical that any action related to current waivers of Buy America requirements not have the unintended consequence of hindering the delivery of important roadway safety projects across the country,” Tetschner wrote in the submission.
ATSSA’s comments included results of a fall 2022 survey of ATSSA members, which found the following.
72% would not expect to be able to domestically source materials or products to meet the new Buy America requirements
86% stated that the cost of safety devices and projects will increase under the proposed rule – with some projecting cost increases of as much as 50 percent
66% stated that there will either be work interruptions, project completion challenges and delays, liquidated damages, or all three under the proposed rule
85% of respondents are concerned with the potential for a burdensome or confusing certification process.
“ATSSA members understand it is in the public’s interest to improve roadway safety and urge FHWA to maintain the manufactured products waiver of Buy America requirements,” Tetschner stated in the conclusion of the comments submitted to the Federal Register.