What is the basis of the program?
The program was established by law in June 1998 when the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) was signed into law. TEA-21 adds Chapter 5 of title 23, United States Code, Highways to add Section 503 - Technology Deployment; section 503(b) describes the Innovative Bridge Research and Construction (IBRC) program.
What is the purpose of the program?
The primary purpose of the program is to demonstrate the application of innovative material technology in the repair, rehabilitation, replacement and new construction of bridges or other highway structures.
What are the goals of the program?
All candidate projects must first pass the test of demonstrating the application of innovative material technology. Once that requirement is met, a candidate project must also meet at least one of the seven goals that the U.S. Congress established for the IBRC program.
What makes a project eligible for IBRC funding?
A project may be eligible for IBRC funding if it involves work to repair, rehabilitate, replace, or accomplish new construction of a bridge or other highway structure on any public road in the United States, and if the work demonstrates the application of innovative material technology. Then the project must meet one of the seven goals mentioned above.
What are some "other highway structures" eligible for IBRC funding?
Examples of other structures eligible for demonstrating innovative material technology include sign and light posts/structures, retaining walls, and sound barriers. Other candidates will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Are pedestrian bridges eligible for funding?
Yes. Primary emphasis will be on vehicular structures, but a pedestrian bridge would be eligible as an "other highway structure."
Can proprietary products be included in a project and be eligible for funding under the IBRC program?
Yes. Because this is a research and experimental program, it is in the public interest to include proprietary and sole source products in the projects, but they must be clearly identified and described.
Who may submit candidate projects for IBRC funding?
Any agency or authority that owns and maintains a bridge on any public highway can submit a project for IBRC funding. Agencies must, however, submit their application materials through their State Departments of Transportation (DOT). For example, a county highway agency can complete an application. The agency then forwards the application to the State DOT with a request that the project be submitted for possible IBRC funding.
What's the State DOT's role?
The State DOT may initiate applications for candidate projects on any State-owned bridge and it also gathers all applications for IBRC candidates from local agencies. Each project must have its own individual application form and at least the minimum information required by the solicitation. Additional amplifying information may also be included in the application.
The DOT prioritizes the applications and then submits them as one package to the FHWA Division Office. The Division reviews all applications to ensure all information is complete and then submits the State's applications to the Program Manager, Infrastructure, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, DC.
In addition to the engineering specifications, what other information is necessary?
The Division, in conjunction with the DOT, as necessary, should provide the Congressional district and indicate the Congressional representative from the district where the project is located. It is also helpful to provide talking points for the project.
Should road agencies submit candidate projects for consideration that are apparently or even clearly ineligible for IBRC funding?
No. FHWA Division Offices have been requested to screen all candidate projects from their DOTs and to eliminate ineligible projects from the submittal package. See program instructions on the FHWA Infrastructure's Bridge home page http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/.
Can bridge owners group several individual bridges (or other highway structures) into one candidate project?
Yes. Be sure to identify each bridge by location, name, NBI, etc.
Does the selection process consider State DOT priorities?
Yes. The Dots are asked to rank their candidate projects, including those from local agencies, in order of funding priority. The FHWA Division Offices will work with the Dots to ensure to identify priority order.
How are IBRC funds administered?
The Federal Highway Administrator and the Secretary of Transportation approve IBRC selections. The FHWA Program Manager, Infrastructure, notifies the State Division Administrator by memorandum of the IBRC funds to be allocated to that State. The Division Office then obligates the IBRC funds in much the same manner that other Federal-aid funds are obligated.
Is there a target date for allocating funds to the selected projects?
No. There is no set date, although the FHWA Infrastructure Core Business Unit must deliver a final recommendation to the FHWA Administrator's office on or before the end of the fiscal year for funding for the next funding year. For example, projects must be recommended by September 30, 2001, for FY 2002 funding. There is no fixed date for final review by the Secretary.
Once a candidate project is funded, how is the authorized funding obligated? One lump sum? A series of payments to a specific contract or contractor?
Depending on project circumstances, it is feasible that separate obligations may be made for preliminary engineering, for repair or construction work, or for post-construction monitoring.
Is there a matching requirement for the Federal funds provided under the IBRC?
No, there is no matching requirement per se. TEA-21, however, directs the Secretary of Transportation to determine the Federal share of each project and therefore, some projects may be funded at less than 100% of the requested amount. Also, for some large-scale projects, it may be necessary for the FHWA to provide less than 100% of the requested amount because of limitations on IBRC funds. In those cases, other funds will be necessary to complete project funding.
Is there a requirement about leveraging the IBRC funding?
No. Leveraging of IBRC funds with other funds (Federal, State, local and/or private) is encouraged, but not required. Leveraging of funds is not a factor in the selection process.