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Request

Action: Notice, request for comments.

Web posting date: 03/05/2014

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 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is seeking comments on whether a waiver of the Buy America requirements of 23 CFR 635.410 should be granted to permit the use of non-domestic 1). Motor Brakes; 2). Machinery Brakes; 3). Counterweight Sheave Bearings; 4). Deflector Sheave Bearings; 5). Operating Drum Bearings; 6). Span Lock Bearings in the state of Maine.

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.

Request Letter (.pdf, 3.4 mb)

MeDOT Contact: Jeff Folsom, P.E.
MaineDOT-Bridge Program
207-592-2476 (cell)
Jeff.Folsom@maine.gov

Comments

Michael Cummings 03/10/2014
The manufacturing of components needed for many projects covered under the Buy America provisions of FAR, DFAR, FTA and the FHWA are not done in sufficient and reasonable quantities or at costs that are competitive in the world market. This makes adherence to this requirement of the Buy America regulations inconsistent with the public good.

This condition here is similar to that found in the construction market for subcomponents used in building automation systems for the control of HVAC equipment, such as valves and damper actuators. There is insufficient foundry capacity to meet the growing demand for finished metal subcomponents vital to the construction and operation of much of our infrastructure.

This request is valid and should be granted.

Wole Oyelola 03/10/2014
There are no comments.

Kathy Harbert 03/10/2014
I agree; the request is valid and should be granted.

Duane May 03/10/2014
I agree; the request is valid and should be granted.

M. Kennedy 03/10/2014
Investments need to be made in America so that we can domestically produce the products we need. That needs to begin with saying "no" to waivers.

Rachele Huennekens 03/10/2014
Make it in America.

Nandagopalan Jagannathan 03/10/2014
If the components and spare parts are not locally readily available the waiver may be granted to specific period until such components manufactured and made available in domestic.

Stewart Hingle 03/11/2014
It is my understanding that the intent and the purpose of the "Buy America" Act is not to stimulate the American economy. If it was, it would not be restricted to steel. The purpose is to support and protect the American steel industry by providing a substantial and non competitive (on a world scale) market for their products. This is not something that should be done lightly, but it was done because it was determined (and I agree) that maintaining a domestic steel industry was vital to the nation's interests in the event of a crisis.

All that being said, Mr. Cummings is correct. The American transportation industry (primarily the 50 State DOT's) purchase structural steel (structural shapes, plate steel, rebar, structural bolts, etc.) for road and bridge construction projects in sufficient quantities to support the domestic steel industry and accomplish the purpose of the "Buy America" Act. This is evidenced by the recovery of the domestic steel industry since the Act was enacted. However, the transporation industry does not purchase enough non-structural, manufactured steel items such as electric motors, brakes, roller bearings, electric generator's, etc. to have an affect on those markets either domestically or internationally. So the only result of requiring these materials to be purchased domestically is to force the State DOT's to purchase these items in a market that often has many fewer options and less competition to suppress prices. This is not consistent with the public good. Therefore, I am in favor of a general waiver to the "Buy America" Act that would restrict the requirement for domestic steel purchases to structural steel items only. In addition to the benefits I have already mentioned, this would eliminate a lot of unnecessary work and red tape for State DOT's in determining which manufactured items are "legal" because they may or may not contain parts made from foreign steel.

Stewart P. Hingle, P.E. Mechanical Design Manager Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development 225-379-1316

Joel Radix 03/11/2014
All efforts to ensure that domestic products are prioritized and utilized should be made. However, it makes sense that in in the event that those components and spare parts are not domestically available the waiver may be granted (only for a specified time period).

Thomas J Hickman 03/11/2014
This request should not be granted. These materials and equipment are available in the US. The Buy American requirements have resulted in a positive way to grow American Manufacturing and we need to continue down this path.

Abiodun Oladokun 03/12/2014
This request should be granted only if it is clearly proved that all efforts has been made to get those components and spare parts within the country and were not available.

John Parrish 03/12/2014
If the Unites States of America has a "Buy American Act" then why is this question coming up at all? The less we buy from other countries the more of a demand of products produced here will become. I dont buy anything made in other countrues and my friends say; You must not buy much. And my reply is; I buy groceries. The problem in this country is people dont have a choice. Its either Made in China or Made in China. I can afford to pay more fore a better product. Just give me a choice. Maybe the Federal Government can step in and build a steel plant in the U.S. so we can build it here and buy it here. Its a no brainer.

Thomas J Hickman 03/13/2014
These components are produced by Oregon Iron Works Inc. in Clackamas OR, and by Steward Machine Co. in Birmingham AL. This waiver should not be granted with suppliers in the US who can supply domestic goods that satisfy this need and meet the Buy American rules.

Whitney DeBardeleben, Jr. 03/13/2014
Mr. Hickman is correct in stating that "The Buy American requirements have resulted in a positive way to grow American Manufacturing and we need to continue down this path."

Please also note that companies in the United States, especially those responsible for producing the key components of our national infrastructure, are required to adhere to quality, safety and environmental standards that are established by federal, state and local governmental agencies. Such standards have resulted in safer work environments, a cleaner environment and products of exceptional quality. These standards also increase the operating costs of companies in the United States. Products manufactured outside of the United States are not manufactured in facilities that adhere to the same standards. There are countless examples of negative quality, safety and environmental issues that have arisen as a result of the use of foreign materials.

Please also keep in mind that projects such as this are funded by taxes collected from the American worker and business. When public funds are used to purchase foreign products or material that are available in the United States, work and/or jobs are taken away from our fellow citizens and businesses that help to provide said funds.

Bret Gist 03/14/2014
The items listed above are manufactured in the US. Therefore the request should not be granted. The Buy America requirement is very important to the future of America's manufacturers. I believe not only State and Federally funded projects should endorse the Buy America Act but all US industries.

Scott Boos 03/14/2014
On behalf of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), thank you for the opportunity to comment on this waiver request of the Buy America requirements of requirements of 23 CFR 635.410 relative to various machinery components to be used in the replacement of the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge Replacement in Maine.

It is our understanding that the components included in this waiver request are, in fact, manufactured in sufficient quantity and quality here in the United States by at least two companies: Oregon Iron Works Inc., located in Clackamas, Oregon; and Steward Machine Co., located in Birmingham, Alabama. As such, this request should be denied.

Buy America laws are an effective, common-sense, trade-compliant, and extremely popular way to support U.S. manufacturing companies and their workers. Put simply, it makes absolutely no sense to send hard-earned tax dollars to China, India, or other countries when companies here in the U.S. are ready to do the work at a fair, competitive price.

Buy America preferences include common-sense waivers to alleviate any short-term market limitations when unreasonable cost, limited product availability, or other factors would be an impediment to a project’s completion. In such situations, including this one, we greatly appreciate the Federal Highway Administration’s transparent comment process, which helps to ensure that waivers are not unnecessarily processed in instances when there are domestic firms ready and willing to supply the goods necessary to build our infrastructure projects. Doing so would be a missed opportunity to support jobs in America.

Again, thank you for this opportunity to express our view that this waiver should be denied.

---Scott Boos, Alliance for American Manufacturing

William McEleney 03/18/2014
The new Memorial Bridge, a similar style vertical lift bridge within sight of the Sarah Long Bridge, was recently opened to traffic. Additionally the Fore River Bridge, another vertical lift bridge being constructed in nearby Massachusetts, is under construction. Do they not use machinery components similar to that listed in the request for waiver? Did either of these two bridges require a waiver to the Buy America requirements for the components listed? If not, what makes the design of the Sarah Long Bridge so different that similar domestic components cannot be utilized? Is there an allowance for ‘or equal’ material? Unless and until these questions can be answered, the waiver should not be granted.

Jeff Folsom 03/19/2014
One key focus of our project is to deliver a high quality, reliable movable bridge. We, like other states, have experienced equipment failures with movable bridges and the resulting impact it has on vehicular and marine traffic. That is really one of the main reasons we have selected the CM/GC delivery method for this project. Our design consultant and our CM Contractor are two of the top firms in the country when it comes to vertical lift bridges. We have spent many hours at the table discussing the components for the movable span. We believe that the components specified will result in the highest quality and reliability for the movable span. We have been in contact with both Oregon Iron Works and Steward Machine and it is our understanding that although these components could be assembled and supplied by both companies, they are not produced by these companies. They would need to be purchased from a manufacturer of spherical roller bearings and machine brakes. It is anticipated that the spherical roller bearings for this project will be products of Timken, SKF or FAG. All of these companies have some type of domestic manufacturing presence but our understanding is that some steel components that go into the bearings would be produced outside of America with the assembly/manufacture taking place in America for some bearings and overseas for others. It was for this reason that the Waiver was written & requested.

It is anticipated that the drum brakes for this project will be products of Mondel or Bubenzer. These companies also have some type of domestic manufacturing presence but it is our understanding that they both purchase their thrusters from a company outside of the US. It was for this reason that the Waiver was written & requested

Jack Longworth 03/20/2014
There are several manufacturers in the USA that build these movable bridge components. We have had many motor brakes, machinery brakes, span lock machinery (including bearings), as well as sheave bearings fabricated by American companies at reasonable cost and installed on our NJ movable bridges. It would be best to look into getting more quotes from other manufacturers so you can get a better price. The prices referenced in your request letter seem very high. I think with some more research into other US manufacturers, you should be able to obtain much better prices. Good luck.

Jack Longworth New Jersey Department of Transportation Movable Bridge Engineering

Deb Ackerman 03/20/2014
You mention having been in contact with Oregon Iron Works and Steward Machine. I am wondering if you have had contact with Hardie-Tynes Co.Inc.in Birmingham, AL; Philadelphia Gear in King of Prussia, PA; or JC Machine in Miami FL? Also you have listed specific reasons for requesting the waiver on certain components. I am concerned that the waiver is more general and frees you up to go with companies that aren't domestic at all. If you get a waiver for a specific detail (as listed), do you still stick with the most domestic company? The greater demand for domestic supplies, the better the chances that every detail of the components can (in time) be produced in the USA. Thank you Deb Ackerman, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Jeff Folsom 03/20/2014
Bill, I'm not sure about Fore River Bridge but I can tell you that the Memorial Bridge was granted a waiver that included the same type of brakes. There are several examples of approved waivers for the brakes. With regard to bearings, the Memorial bridge did also specify spherical roller bearings. Those were supplied by SKF with Buy America Certification. We understand that SKF assembles their spherical roller bearings at their plant in Hanover, PA but depending on the specific size may import some components of the bearing from Sweden.

Whitney DeBardeleben, Jr. 03/20/2014
Jeff, I am not on the bid team for this project. My comment was to the Buy America requirement in general. I understand that waivers have been granted on similar projects when certain materials could not be procured from a 100% domestic source. However, I have been told that our mechanical package includes materials that are 100% of domestic origin. As such, we do not believe this waiver should be granted.

Sam Khaldi 03/21/2014
If it can be produced here in America then it should not be bought from anywhere else. We should encourage our manufacturers to produce these components to make them available when they are needed. The waiver should not be granted.

Jeff Folsom 03/25/2014
Whitney, With regard to your last comment of 3/20/2014, I understood from our phone conversation that your mechanical package does not include the motor or machinery brakes. Please confirm. It is still our understanding that the thrusters for the brakes are non-domestic. Thanks

Scott Prescott 03/28/2014
The Timken Company is a US based company with the ability and desire to domestically manufacture high quality and competitively priced bearings with US produced steel (e.g., TimkenSteel Corporation) for the Sarah Long Bridge Project including Counterweight Sheave Bearings, Deflector Sheave Bearings, and Operating Drum bearings. Moreover, Timken is aware of other domestic bearing manufacturers and domestic steel producers.

Timken would also note that the bearing listed as a “23040YM” for the Deflector Sheave Bearing appears to be the wrong size and series based on the most recent design. Timken’s latest review of the drawings (60% version dated 2.14.2014) shows a 24064 YMB bearing. Timken will research this further to ensure we have current drawings.

Timken supports a strong US manufacturing industry and respectfully requests that the State of Maine reconsider its Buy America waiver dated 2.25.2014 request regarding the Sarah Long Bridge Project. Timken looks forward to continuing to support the State of Maine in this effort and welcomes further discussion.

Jeff Folsom 04/02/2014
After further discussion with suppliers listed in the above comments, MaineDOT is withdrawing its waiver request for items 3,4,5,6 listed in our request letter. We maintain that the waiver for the motor and machinery brakes is justified.

John D 04/07/2014
What's the purpose of buy America if you continue to circumvent the program by requesting a waiver?? Exactly how can "we the people" prevent the waiver request?? I've seen many waiver requests on many different projects. Why would anyone agree to these waivers when this country is hurting for jobs and sustainably good wages? Jobs have been sent overseas for 30 yrs with the approval of our crooked politicians. How does asking for continued waivers help the working class in this country? Let's just blatantly say - our crooked politicians have screwed the working class people for the last 3 decades or more so let's continue by purchasing products and giving jobs to other countries who will work for slave labor prices. Jobs will come back to the US when we start working for $60 a month or 75 cents and hour like China and Mexico. Keep up the good work Dems and Gop's. Those who agree with the continued waivers - your part of the problem and not part of the solution.

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Updated: 07/23/2014
 

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