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Construction Projects Incorporating Experimental Features

  1. What is the purpose of the experimental features program?
  2. What are some key definitions of the program?
  3. What are the general principles of the program?
  4. How should the results of the experimental features program be reported?
  5. How are projects with experimental features terminated?
  6. How are projects with experimental features financed?
  7. Is this non-regulatory supplemental guidance equivalent to the "Request for Experiment" program outlined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)?
  1. What is the purpose or objective of the experimental features program?
    1. The purpose of the experimental features program is to encourage highway agencies to evaluate new or innovative highway technology, or alternative standard technology,under actual construction and operating conditions by means of a program or experimental construction projects.
    2. To provide a mechanism for the widespread dissemination and application of the results of these evaluations.
  2. What are some key definitions of the program?
    1. Control Section - a section or feature of a highway designed and constructed in a standard manner and as nearly as practicable under identical conditions so that comparisons can be made.
    2. Experimental Feature - a material, process, method, equipment item, traffic operational device, or other feature that: (1) has not been sufficiently tested under actual service conditions to merit acceptance without reservation in normal highway construction, or (2) has been accepted but needs to be compared with alternative acceptable features for determining their relative merits and cost effectiveness.
    3. Experimental Project - a Federal-aid highway construction project incorporating one or more experimental features.
    4. Work Plan - a written program of action including a description of the experimental feature, experimental feature objectives, measurements to be made, characteristics to be evaluated, time schedules, reporting requirements, cost estimates, construction and post-construction inspection schedules, control sections, and evaluations to be conducted.
  3. What are the general principles of the program?
    1. Experimental Project Designation. Any Federal-aid project incorporating experimental features should be designated an experimental project and treated accordingly.
    2. Work plan. A work plan is required for each experimental feature.
    3. Approvals
      1. For projects on the Interstate system that incorporate experimental features or on any NHS route that incorporates proprietary products, the work plans must be approved by the Division Administrator prior to or with approval of Plans, Specifications, and Estimates (PS&E). Work plans for experimental projects utilizing State Planning and Research (SPR) funds need approval by the Division Administrator in accordance with normal approval procedures for SPR funded studies. (For NHS projects with State approval authority and oversight, work plan approval is delegated to the State.)
      2. Experimental features included in ongoing projects by change order also need approval by the Division Administrator.
    4. Control Sections. Control sections or other alternatives should be provided for performance comparisons in all experimental projects unless the nature of the experiment is such that a control section or alternative would serve no purpose.
    5. Cost Data. Cost data should be compiled for all experimental and control features.
    6. Multiple Project Justification. Two or three construction projects should be adequate to conclusively evaluate a single feature. The justification for more than five construction projects should be carefully analyzed prior to initiation.
  4. How should the results of the experimental features program be reported?
    1. Reporting of results should be completed for all experimental features. All reporting(including form, content, and delivery) should follow the requirements set forth in the approved work plan. Final reports prepared utilizing SPR and non-SPR funds are to be submitted for review and approval to the FHWA Division Office in accordance with the established procedures for SPR funded RD&T studies. Two copies of the final report should be provided to the FHWA Division Administrator. The Division Office should forward one copy to the following address:

      John V. Moulden
      National Partnership Program Manager
      Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center
      FHWA HRTM-10
      6300 Georgetown Pike, Suite T-305
      McLean, VA 22101
      john.moulden@dot.gov

    2. The FHWA supports the continued use of the AASHTO Product Evaluation List (APEL). Contracting agencies should provide the appropriate experimental feature evaluation report information to the APEL web site so that other agencies may benefit from their evaluations.
  5. How are projects with experimental features terminated?

    The Division Administrator may determine the project has been completed when the workplan goals either have been achieved or cannot be achieved.

  6. How are projects with experimental features financed?
    1. Total construction costs attributable to experimental features may be financed with the appropriate class of Federal-aid funds. SPR funds cannot be used for constructing experimental features.
    2. Evaluation costs may be financed with the same class of funds used for construction of the experimental feature, SPR funds, or non-Federal funds. If SPR funds are used,the administrative requirements in 23 CFR Part 420 are applicable.
  7. Is this non-regulatory supplemental guidance for construction projects incorporating experimental features equivalent to the "request to experiment" process outlined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)?

    No, this non-regulatory supplemental guidance is separate and distinct from the "Request to Experiment" process outlined in the MUTCD.

Contact

John Huyer
Office of Program Administration
651-291-6111
E-mail John

 
 
Updated: 08/09/2012
 

FHWA
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration