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US DOT overhauls century-old rule for highway projects

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently published an updated federal rule to give states more flexibility and choice in the products or services that can be used on federally funded highway projects.

The change is intended to improve safety and increase efficiency while saving taxpayer dollars, FHWA said.

“This much-needed update of a century-old, obsolete rule will benefit state transportation infrastructure projects and save millions of taxpayer dollars,” said Elaine L Chao, US transportation secretary.

The rule updates an outdated federal requirement that restricts the ability of states to use patented or proprietary technology in their Federal-aid highway projects.

“This final rule promotes innovation by empowering states to choose which state-of-the-art materials, tools and products best meet their needs for the construction and upkeep of America’s transportation infrastructure,” said Federal Highway Administrator Nicole R Nason.

Prior to this change, federal regulations prohibited state contracting agencies from using federal funds to acquire patented or proprietary materials, products or services, except under certain limited circumstances.

The new rule will take effect Oct 28, 2019. It can be viewed online at

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