Bridges Questions & Answers
Posted 9/25/2012, Updated 10/9/2013
Question 1: When will the bridges that are to be added to the National Highway System on October 1, 2012, need to be identified in the NBIS?
Answer 1: States will need to identify bridges on the updated NHS in their April 2013 National Bridge Inventory (NBI) data submittals. Bridges on the NHS prior to MAP-21 are already identified in the NBI; therefore, this will involve updating NBI Item 104 coding for the bridges on routes added under MAP-21. FHWA will produce updated NHS maps by October 1, 2012.
Question 2: When will the bridge condition penalty under section 1106 (23 U.S.C. 119(f)(2), MAP-21 § 1106(a)) be applied?
Answer 2: In order to allow the States three complete years under the NHPP as determined by 23 U.S.C. 119(f)(2), FHWA will examine bridge condition data submitted by the States in April 2014, 2015, and 2016. If the deck area on structurally deficient NHS bridges exceeds the 10 percent bridge condition threshold for all three years, the penalty will be imposed on October 1, 2016 (the start of FY 2017).
Question 3: What is the penalty if a State does not achieve the bridge condition threshold established in section 1106 (23 U.S.C. 119(f)(2), MAP-21 § 1106(a))?
Answer 3: The penalty requires that an amount equal to 50 percent of the State's Highway Bridge Program (HBP) apportionment in 2009 will be set aside from National Highway Performance Program (NHPP) funds to be used only for eligible projects on NHS bridges.
Question 4: Will the transfer penalty in 23 U.S.C. 144(e) as it existed prior to enactment of MAP-21 be invoked if the State transfers Highway Bridge Program (HBP) funds prior to October 1, 2012?
Answer 4: No. As there will be no apportionment for the HBP in FY 2013 or FY 2014, no penalty will be imposed for transfers from the HBP during FY 2012.
Question 5: Since MAP-21 did not reauthorize the Highway Bridge Program (HBP) and amended 23 U.S.C. 144, what rules apply to the use of old HBP funds?
Answer 5: Unobligated funds which were apportioned under the HBP will continue to follow the requirements of 23 U.S.C. 144 as it existed prior to the enactment of MAP-21.
Question 6: Are any funds available for the same type of activities that were eligible under the National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Program (Section 1804 of SAFETEA-LU)?
Answer 6: Activities that were eligible under the National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Program may be eligible for Surface Transportation Program (STP) or Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) funding under MAP-21.
Question 7: For many years FHWA has applied a "10-year rule" for determining a bridge's eligibility for HBP funding after construction or major reconstruction has taken place. The rule was established to prevent a bridge from remaining in a deficient classification after major work, thereby affecting the Highway Bridge Program (HBP) apportionments to a State. Is this "10-year rule" still in place under MAP-21?
Answer 7: No, the programmatic rule applied under the HBP, known as the 10-year rule, does not apply under MAP-21 programs. The HBP was eliminated and the apportionment process under the MAP-21 programs is not affected by the population of deficient bridges; therefore, the rule has no relevance.
Question 8: Is it possible to get a waiver of the minimum 15 percent set-aside for bridges not on Federal-aid highways under the STP?
Answer 8: Yes, section 1108 (23 U.S.C. 133(g)(2)(B)) provides that a waiver is allowed when the Secretary determines that the State has inadequate needs to justify the expenditures. The Secretary has delegated this authority to the FHWA Administrator, who must approve all waiver requests under this provision. FHWA will issue guidance regarding the process to be followed for approval of the waivers.
Question 9: Can NHPP funds be used for inspections or other activities on non-NHS bridges?
Answer 9: No, NHPP funds can only be used for eligible projects on eligible facilities. (23 U.S.C. 119, MAP-21 § 1106) Under the NHPP, an eligible facility is a facility located on the NHS. Inspections of bridges on any public road are eligible under the Surface Transportation Program (STP) in section 1108 (23 U.S.C. 133(b)(4)).
Question 10: Are bridge and tunnel inspections eligible for HSIP funds? (added 10/9/2013)
Answer 10: Yes, bridge and tunnel inspections are eligible for HSIP funds, subject to the HSIP eligibility criteria. HSIP funds apportioned under 23 U.S.C. 104(b)(3) may be used to carry out the requirements of 23 U.S.C. 144 (See 23 U.S.C. 144(j)(2)). However, to be eligible for HSIP funds, such projects must meet the requirements of HSIP (See 23 U.S.C. 148). Specifically, all HSIP projects must address a priority in the State's Strategic Highway Safety Plan, be identified through a data-driven process, and contribute to a reduction of fatalities and serious injuries resulting from motor vehicle crashes. Additional information related to HSIP eligibility requirements is available in the HSIP MAP-21 Interim Eligibility Guidance available at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/map21/guidance/guidehsip.cfm.
Question 11: Is the application of anti-icing materials eligible for Federal funding under the NHPP?
Answer 11: No, the application of anti-icing materials is not eligible under the NHPP. However, application of anti-icing materials is eligible under the STP in section 1108.
Question 12: The installation of safety barriers and nets on bridges is identified as an eligible project type under the STP. (MAP-21 § 1108(a)(4), 23 U.S.C. 133(b)(7)) What types of nets are eligible?
Answer 12: Any type of net that is needed to address a safety issue would be eligible. Examples would include a suicide protection net or a net on the side of a bridge to keep objects from being thrown onto cars, people, boats, etc. below. Although not specifically stated as an eligible activity under the NHPP, nets on NHS bridges would be considered eligible for NHPP funds if judged to be necessary to address a safety need. (MAP-21 § 1108, 23 U.S.C. 119(d))