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Request

Action: Notice, request for comments.

Web posting date: 03/04/2014

Federal Register Notice of Finding Publication Date: to be determined

Effective Date of Federal Register: to be determined

Close of public comment period: 15 days following the effective date

Summary:

The FHWA proposes to grant a waiver from Buy America, on the basis that such waiver is in the public interest, for vehicle and equipment projects that are to be funded with Federal-aid highway funds on the condition that such vehicles, including projects to retrofit vehicles with individual vehicle components, are assembled in the United States. The vehicle and equipment projects subject to this proposed waiver (including the State in which the project is located, the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) project number, and the descriptions and quantities of vehicles sought) can be viewed in the attached spreadsheet.

FHWA's Buy America requirements provide that 100 percent of all steel and iron that is permanently incorporated into a project must be domestically manufactured. With respect to vehicles, manufacturers typically assemble these products with many different components and subcomponents containing steel and iron. As a result, vehicles are typically referred to as being made where the final product rolls off the assembly line for delivery into the marketplace. The FHWA is unaware of any vehicle that is comprised of 100 percent domestically produced steel and iron, resulting in a need for a Buy America waiver for these projects to proceed.

The FHWA proposes to grant a waiver for 73 vehicle and projects (including sedans, vans, pickups, SUVs, trucks, buses, and equipment, such as street sweepers, low emission and locomotives) to enable FHWA recipients and subrecipients to use their Federal funds for such projects so long as the vehicle or modification is assembled in the United States. Because many vehicles, and components that may be needed for a retrofit, are assembled in the United States, the FHWA believes that it is in the public interest to process waivers for vehicles on the condition that vehicle projects are assembled in the United States. Such approach would give effect to the intent of Buy America by ensuring that Federal highway funds are used to support American jobs in a reasonable and meaningful way given the nature of the U.S. vehicle manufacturing industry.

FHWA will only consider a Buy America waiver when the conditions of 23 CFR 635.410( c) have been met: (1) when the application of the provision would be inconsistent with the public interest; or (2) when steel and iron products are not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities, which are of a satisfactory quality.

The FHWA will consider all comments received in the initial 15-day comment period during our evaluation of the waiver request. Comments received after this period, but before notice of our finding is published in the Federal Register, will be considered to the extent practical. Follow-up coordination on the comments received may result in a delay in the publication of our waiver finding in the Federal Register. Comments received during the 15-day comment period after notice of our finding is published in the Federal Register will be reviewed, but the finding will continue to remain valid. Comments received during the comment period after the effective date of the finding will be reviewed, and may influence the FHWA's decision to terminate or modify a finding.

Comments

MARK VINSON 03/04/2014
maximum of 15% of components. file for waiver if unavailable on-shore. demonstrate waiver is of economic benefit to the federal aid project. demonstrate required contract (design/construction) criteria is met.

Gary Strome 03/04/2014
Perhaps we should establish a list such that a documented material usage % of equipment/vehicle origin is from the USA. Vehicles in the top 10% would qualify for purchase with US FHWA dollars. Without incentive to manufacture in the USA, this is merely a dog and pony show.

Robert Lewis 03/04/2014
This makes perfect sense, and should alert the FHWA to review other "non-structural" items that they are funding. This is 2014, and while using 100% domestic steel and iron in bridges and highways may still be a valid necessity, the FHWA and sister agencies have changed their focus away from strictly roads, bridges and tunnels. They now finance buildings, garages, terminals etc.....and the 100% domestic steel and iron requirement in such items as decorative trim, lights, signs, plumbing fixtures, is outdated to say the least. As with the vehicles, perhpaps the FHWA should simply follow the same rules and rgualtions that other Federal Agencies follow (i.e the "other" Buy American Act). RHL03042014

Louise M. Tinkler 03/05/2014
As the Executive Director of a 501(c)(3) public transportation agency, it is critical that we be able to procure accessible mini-vans to transport primarily senior citizens and persons with disabilities. These smaller, low floor vehicles are much easier for the clients to enter and exit, and the smaller size make them more economical to operate. Please give favorable consideration to granting waivers to responsible and responsive bidders requesting these waivers. On behalf of the general public clients that we serve, thank you.

ibrahim aly 03/05/2014
buy america its a great idea but you must consider that must meet at least 60% of the totale parts made in american not a forigen made and the steel 100% american the issue is the teqhnology if you not manufacturing in united state we will loose not only the jobe but all what comes with like constraction,service,education and manufacturing sactor.

Sean Brewer 03/06/2014
The City is a small rural disadvantaged community in the Central Valley of California with a street sweeper that is 10 years old. A new sweeper, besides operating cleaner would allow the existing sweeper to be used as a backup unit during routine maintenance periods and eliminate a breakdown in service. The current sweeper’s engine and specifically its secondary motor for sweeping purposes does not lend itself easily and cheaply to comply with Air Pollution Control District requirements.

The City of Coalinga is doing what it can to do its part in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by introducing a clean diesel vehicle to its fleet. The City of Coalinga further believes that it is in the public interest to approve such waivers since the vehicle chosen by Coalinga was carefully selected in order to comply with the intent of the “Buy America” standard. Buy America is a great program supporting domestic companies. With that in mind, we are unaware of any street sweeper that is comprised of 100% domestic components, which justifies the need for the waiver.

Don A. McKenzie 03/07/2014
BUY AMERICAN MEANS JUST THAT! AS A TAX PAYER I DEMAND MY MONEY GOES TOWARD USING AMERICAN LABOR AND MATERIALS!

M. Kennedy 03/10/2014
I agree 100% with Don Mckenzie's comment. The need for accessible senior vehicles and operational street sweepers is understandable. But funds need to be invested here in America so that we can domestically produce the products we need. No to waivers!

David E. Bruderly PE 03/10/2014
Since the formation of OPEC, the US Congress has failed to enact energy and trade policies that would stimulate the widespread manufacture and use of natural gas motor fuels and electric drive-trains in these United States. The result of this short-sighted political behavior is that the American consumer is addicted to oil (Presidents Bush and Obama, 2002 and 2010)and foreign manufacturers now dominate the market for essential automotive components. Failure to grant waivers will delay deployment of fueling stations needed to serve natural gas vehicles, therefore waivers are needed in the short term to foster widespread use of natural gas and electric motor fuels. However, applicants should be put on notice that vehicle specifications shall be modified, when possible, to use 100% American content. Applicants should also be told that in the future waivers will only be granted when no American made parts are available. Maybe Congress will finally wake up and start working to promote the interests of the American people rather than right-wing and left-wing ideologues.

Thomas O'Brien 03/10/2014
Suggest exploring the way aerospace firms operate on Foreign Sales. For example, when Canada bought the F-18 fighter they required 150% of the value of the aircraft in offset purchases of Canadian good by the then McDonnell Douglas Corporation. It did not matter what they bought as long as it was made in Canada.

Seems like if could apply the same logic and it might help us get past these ongoing Buy America log jams.

Hermann R. Dudik 03/11/2014
If we manufacture it in America with a professional & skilled work force, use american steel and hardware with top quality control, we can do the job better then any foreign country. We built the Saturn V rocket in this country and had 100% success. It can be done if we use the correct approach and focus on each and every project we undertake. Furthermore it would create thousands of new jobs and reduce welfare and unemployment. Wake up America and keep up the pressure on your politicians!

F. Wyatt Shields, City Manager 03/14/2014
The City of Falls Church (City) has a long track record of purchasing its vehicles within the United States along with a commitment of meeting clean air/environmental quality improvements in its utility and public works fleet operations. The City therefore was pleased to be awarded CMAQ grant funds in order to purchase hybrid vehicles starting in 2009 through 2013; note that 16 vehicles (15 pick-up trucks and1 dump truck) have already been purchased and deployed. The City included the Buy America requirement included in procurement documentation and required the selected vendor to submit such documentation showing that the vehicles met the certification. It was only in late 2013 that the City was informed that these vehicles did not meet the requirement and that the Commonwealth of Virginia was applying for the waiver on behalf of itself and all Virginia localities impacted by this retroactive knowledge. This determination is through no fault of the City and would have a significant impact on a small locality and its citizens if the $637,519 dollars were required to be repaid. This equates to 1.5% increase in the local tax rate and 11% reduction to the Public Works budget which is significant to a small City of 12,500 citizens.

The City is in full support of granting this waiver and recommends that the FHWA determine future incentives to facilitate hybrid vehicles being produced in the United States but to hold innocent localities harmless.

Respectfully submitted, Wyatt Shields

Alleyn Harned, Executive Director 03/18/2014
Virginia Clean Cities is a statewide nonprofit coalition working to clean our air, facilitate local economic opportunity, and decrease our dependence on oil. One major way that states like Virginia accomplish such efforts is through the use of the CMAQ program, however, the alternative fuel automotive options are often predominantly made from American materials with a statistically small portions of materials sourced globally. Virginia has identified an innovative method to provide vehicle and infrastructure transition to cleaner vehicles and to enable great environmental benefit with domestic materials and labor. These 73 vehicle waivers, and the Virginia waiver in particular, are in the public interest and enable FHWA recipients to clean the air and still use American technologies and American manufacturing. As Executive Director of this environmental nonprofit I can say that it is critical that these waivers are granted rapidly.

Steven Edgemon, Deputy General Manager, Fairfax Water 03/19/2014
To whom it may concern, Fairfax Water recently completed a transaction with the City of Falls Church, which resulted in a transfer of assets which will continue to be utilized to provide a basic public service to citizens. A very small percentage (far less than 1%) of the transferred assets that conveyed between these two not-for-profit entities was represented by seven hybrid vehicles. The issue of the Buy America requirements adds just another complexity to a very complex transaction that is not reflective of the relative value represented by the vehicles. The imposition upon citizens (the ultimate payee) of a reversal of grant money based on a technical issue (which could not have been known by the City of Falls Church) would seem inconsistent with the goal of public service or the purpose or goal of the grant. Steven T. Edgemon Deputy General Manager Fairfax Water sedgemon@fairfaxwater.org 703.289.6012

Sandy Modell, General Manager 03/20/2014
Alexandria Transit Company operates the local DASH bus system. We are purchasing vehicles from an all USA company. However, a small portion of the material used in the steel frame must be purchased oversees, as it is not available in the USA. Without the Buy America waiver, we will be unable to purchase heavy duty transit buses with this funding. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) does a blanket waiver on rolling stock because of the difficulty in procuring buses that would be the 100% Buy America rule. There are a few systems in the country who do not receive direct federal aid from FTA, so it would be helpful to these systems if FHWA would provide a waiver of this kind as well.

Charles A. Kilpatrick, P.E., Commisioner of Highways, Virginia Department of Transportation 03/21/2014
The Virginia Department of Transportation supports the request for the Buy America waiver for vehicle and equipment projects in Virginia. Most of the projects in Virginia that would be subject to this proposed waiver are for the conversion of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s fleet to alternative fuel vehicles. Without such a waiver, it would be virtually impossible to use federal funds for such projects, as noted by FHWA’s statement in this notice and request for comments, “FHWA is unaware of any vehicle that is comprised of 100 percent domestically produced steel and iron, resulting in a need for a Buy America waiver for these projects to proceed.”

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Contact

Edwin Okonkwo
Office of Program Administration
202-366-1558
E-mail Edwin

 
 
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Updated: 11/25/2014
 

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