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Repeal of 103-year-old rule opens door to innovative road-safety devices | Dump Truck Company

ARTBA says the antiquated federal procurement rule hindered state and local governments from buying products, such as mobile barriers designed to protect highway workers.

A 103-year-old federal procurement rule that road-industry advocates say stifled the use of road-safety products by state and local governments has been repealed by the Federal Highway Administration.

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), which fought for repeal of the “proprietary products rule” for years, lauded the decision September 26, saying it will “spur development of new technologies to help save lives, minimize congestion and improve the performance of the nation’s highways.”

ARTBA filed a petition March 2018 with the U.S. Department of Transportation to throw out the procurement rule, which was adopted in 1916 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The rule essentially prohibited the use of patented or proprietary products on state and local highway and bridge projects that receive federal funding, partly because the rule required competitive bidding, even if the product is one of a kind, according to ARTBA’s petition.

“This archaic regulation was a roadblock to innovation,” ARTBA President & CEO Dave Bauer said.

ARTBA says the repeal will allow states to use federal highway funds on patented or proprietary road and bridge technologies, such as “reflective road lane dividers that deter tired motorists from drifting into oncoming traffic, traffic signs that minimize injury by collapsing at the slightest impact, and road barriers on wheels that provide physical but movable walls between traffic and construction workers.”

The repeal is effective October 28.