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Notice of Buy America Waiver Request Request

Action: Notice, request for comments.

Web posting date: 10/05/2016

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 2-MTU propulsion engines, 2-Reintges gearboxes, and 2-Rolls Royce water jet thrusters to repower NJ/NY SeaStreak ferry vessels. in the state of New Jersey.

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.

NJ DOT contact: Kartikeya Patel, (609)530-5640, Kartikeya.Patel@dot.nj.gov

Request Letter (.pdf. 0.1 mb)

Comments

Jordan Tilton 04/10/2017
In terms of the Rolls Royce Waterjets, I respect the fact that they are available for the repower of the SeaStrek Vessels. However, I am the Sales Manager / Engineer for Thrustmaster of Texas who manufactures and assembles Waterjets of equivalent size, power, and speed capabilities of the entire Rolls Royce Waterjet line, as well as control stations for the SeaStreak Ferry Line. These jets are fully sourced, assembled, and supported from our Headquarters in Houston, Texas and I am based in the Great Lakes area where I am able to support on-site to the customers for quick response. Thrustmaster of Texas is in full compliance of the Buy America / Buy American act and have the capability to produce waterjets for this repower / refit project and are ready to submit the appropriate proposal, Performance Estimate (after receiving application questionnaires on the vessel), and full Scope of Supply.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at 614-306-0539 or my email listed above.

Thank you!

Sincerely, Jordan A. Tilton Waterjet Sales Manager / Engineer Thrustmaster of Texas

Joe R. Bekker 04/14/2017
We are objecting to potential waiver of Buy America Act requirements sought in the Buy America Waiver Request (the Request) submitted by the State of New Jersey for the purchase of propulsion engines, gearboxes and Jetdrive propulsion thrusters for the SeaStreak Ferry Vessel Repower Project dated July 29, 2016. Despite the date of the letter, the Notice indicates that the public comment period remains undetermined and therefore open. The Waiver Request is to allow the purchase of 2 MTU engines, 2 Reintjes gearboxes and 2 Rolls Royce waterjet thrusters to be installed on SeaStreaks M/V New Jersey and M/V New York. These are steel products manufactured in Germany and in Sweden, not the United States. The Request indicates no RFP was published for the Vessel Repower Project. Rather, the Request indicates solely that an RFP for a similar project was published at some unspecified date in previous history, which could have been several years ago. We note that the Request makes no claim that waiver is in the public interest, or that comparable products are unavailable from domestic manufacturers. Requirements of 23 CFR 635.410© have not been met. Equivalent products of US manufacture are available, and Thrustmaster of Texas, Inc., a propulsion manufacturer and a supplier of complete thruster systems for over 30 years, with its manufacturing facility in Houston, Texas, can supply a complete thruster package (engines, gearbox and waterjets) suitable for the Project. Likewise, engines, gearboxes and waterjets of U.S. manufacture are also available separately. Specifically, the MTU diesel engines selected by the State of New Jersey are MTU Series 4000 Tier 3 engines rated at 3,006 HP. An equivalent US product is Caterpillar 3516E Tier 4 engines rated at 3,004 HP. The Caterpillar is actually superior in that it complies with EPA Tier 4 rating, substantially reducing the emission of NOx and SOx, compared to the State of New Jersey proposed MTU engines that merely meet Tier 3 rating. (We note a Caterpillar 3512C engine was used for a ferry in conjunction with a waiver granted by FHWA for a set of non-domestic thruster units on June 17, 2016.) Gearboxes made in the USA are available from both Twin Disc in Racine, WI and from Haley Marine Gears, Inc. in Greenville, MS. With respect to waterjets, Thrustmaster of Texas manufactures and regularly offers waterjet thrusters for marine applications including ferries. Thrustmaster of Texas holds exclusive rights and know-how for manufacture of waterjets originally designed and manufactured by Doen, an Australian waterjet manufacturer. Thrustmaster started building the Doen waterjets in its large Houston facilities under the Thrustmaster brand name in 2014. Doen jets have been in service around the world and in US and Foreign Militaries for more than 30 years and over this time span, these waterjets have continually been refined to optimize performance, durability and maintainability. Today, Thrustmaster continues this fine tradition and further enhances the products based on Thrustmasters vast knowledge and experience in designing and building marine propulsion and maneuvering equipment. We therefore respectfully urge that the Request be denied.

Himanshu Patel 05/22/2017
Below is the response from NJDOT for above 2 comments from Jordan Tilton posted on 4/10/17 and Joe Bekker posted on 4/14/2017.

SeaStreak LLC has performed 2 repowers on other vessels. Most recently using USEPA DERA funding, SeaStreak issued a RFP following their standard procurement process. During this process only 2 vendors offered bids for water jet thrusters and the equipment that was chosen was deemed as the most suitable for the project. In light of comments made to this waiver, SeaStreak LLC has issued a new RFP to solicit bids for the CMAQ SeaStreak ferry repower project. All viable bids will be evaluated and considered with priority given to equipment that achieves substantial environmental benefits while keeping the Buy America provisions in mind.

CMAQ provisions from FAST Act/MAP-21 emphasizes select project types including transit improvements and diesel repowers which this project includes. This project achieves the primary CMAQ goals of reducing air pollution and traffic congestion since it is a passenger ferry repower. Upon project completion, immediate impact on congestion mitigation is achieved and PM and NOx emissions is greatly improved by going from Tier1 engines to the highest feasibly available tiered engines.

At this time, NJDOT requests FHWA to evaluate this waiver request.

Thank you for your time in this matter.

Himanshu Patel NJDOT

Himanshu Patel 07/13/2017
RFP was issued on May 5, 2017 and closed on June 14, 2017. Contractor is now going through to make sure all equipment is technically feasible. Once they do this they will evaluate all bids. Thrustmaster of Texas, who made the comment on the waiver submitted a bid for waterjet thrusters. Their cost is double the other bids and is made in the USA. SeaStreak is making sure that their product is technically feasible for their application. At this time the RFP has not been awarded yet.

Thank you

Himanshu Patel 08/28/2017
SeaStreak LLC issued an RFP for 2 ferry vessel repowers, covering engines, marine gearboxes, and waterjet thrusters. The RFP was issued on May 5, 2017 and closed on June 14, 2017. A total of 3 bids were received for the engines, 2 bids for the marine gearboxes, and 3 bids for the waterjet thrusters. While some American made equipment was bid under this RFP, they were deemed either not technically feasible or had physical size constraints for the vessels being repowered. Of the 3 equipment categories, the engines and gearboxes have final assembly here in the US. Therefore, the Buy America Waiver request for the MTU propulsion engines, Karl Senner LLC Reintjes marine gearboxes, and Rolls-Royce waterjet thrusters is still being requested.

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Updated: 04/24/2018
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