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Notice of Buy America Waiver Request

Action: Notice, request for comments.

Web posting date: 09/27/2021

Federal Register Notice of Finding Publication Date: 02/07/22

Effective Date of Federal Register: 02/08/22

Close of public comment period: 02/13/22

Summary: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is seeking comments on whether a waiver of the Buy America requirements under 23 CFR § 635.410(b) should be granted to permit the use of non-domestic parts in construction of the Golden Gate Bridge Physical Suicide Deterrent System project (Project) in California. The waiver was requested by the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation District (District) and relates specifically to replacement of the maintenance traveler system, which is needed to allow continued inspections and routine maintenance operations after the Suicide Deterrent System is constructed. The non-domestic parts, which are further detailed in Attachment 1 below, include: (i) electric motors; (ii) speed reducers; (iii) wheel chocks; (iv) a chain stopper; (v) rail clamps with hydraulic power units; (vi) pneumatic brakes; (vii) air compressors; (viii) gas cylinder stands; (ix) bearings (of various types specified in the request); (x) electric cabinet switches and handles; (xi) electrical cabinet shafts; (xii) grounding shoes; and (xiii) scissor lifts.

On average, 30 people die from suicide at the Golden Gate Bridge each year. Hundreds more are stopped by the District, the California Highway Patrol, or other intervention. The District determined that a physical barrier was needed to stop suicides from the bridge. The Project, Federal Aid Project No. BHLS-6003(051), involves the construction of a horizontal stainless-steel net supported by steel net supports for the full length of the bridge, except for a tall vertical railing installed in one location. The horizontal steel net system uses all American steel. The Project also includes the replacement of the bridge maintenance travelers with new travelers because the installation of the net will block the movement of the existing travelers. In this context, a "traveler" means a moveable inspection and maintenance platform, which travels on steel rails and trolley beams and is designed to provide access to the bridge. A new replacement traveler access system is necessary to allow continued inspections and routine maintenance operations after the Suicide Deterrent System is constructed. Some of the traveler equipment is not available with the required Buy America certification because it is not manufactured in America or manufactured in America with some non-domestic parts.

The contract for the Project (Contract) also encompasses the Golden Gate Bridge Wind Retrofit Project, Federal Aid Project No. BHLS-6003(052). The current construction Contract amount for both projects is approximately $204.2 million (with $192.3 for the Suicide Deterrent System Project and $11.9 million for the Wind Retrofit Project). The estimated value of the components under the requested waiver is approximately $2.6 million (or 1.3% of the total Contract amount). The construction Contract specifies that the Project is partially funded with federal funds and that the FHWA Buy America provisions apply. For the Suicide Deterrent System Project, approximately 65% of the total Project cost is Federal, 4% is from the State, and 31% is local. Under 23 U.S.C. 313(g), FHWA's Buy America requirement applies to the entire scope of the project, as defined in the NEPA document, when Federal funds are used in any part of the project regardless of whether Federal funds are used in the actual component that is subject to the waiver.

The traveler system is a "contractor-designed" element of this low-bid construction contract. As such, the fact that some of the requisite traveler equipment is not available with Buy America certifications was not identified until after the contract was awarded and the contractor completed the traveler design. Specifically, the new travelers will be propelled by electric drive systems that include some manufactured mechanical and electrical control components that are not available with the Buy America certification. The travelers must also be equipped with electric scissor lifts that are similarly not available with the Buy America certification.

The Project is currently under construction and a waiver is needed for project completion. The District explained in early 2021 that it was already at a juncture where delays in the approval of the Buy America waiver may delay completion of construction with commensurate additional payments to the contractor.

The FHWA will only consider a Buy America waiver when the conditions of 23 CFR § 635.410(c) have been met. This includes: (1) when the application of the requirements under § 635.410(c) 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 5-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 practicable. 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 5-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.

Contact: Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation District, Ewa Bauer-Furbush, P.E., District Chief Engineer, ebauer@goldengate.org, 415-923-2250.

Request letter
Attachment 1
Second request letter
Federal Register/Vol. 87, No. 25

Comments

Peter Krah 09/28/2021
Absolutely not. No buy America waiver, in fact, we need the eact opposite, only buy America. Good grief we have enough problems in the world, why would we want to make another country stronger to compete against our own stell industry. What are you people thinking to even ask for a waiver.

Tamery mccrabb 09/28/2021
No. All materials must be from domestic producers. I'm surprised this is even being considered.

Tamery mccrabb 09/28/2021
The designers MUST spec out components produced in the United States! Revise design to accommodate domestically produced items. Don't get lazy.

Clark Ricke 09/28/2021
Do NOT waive the Buy American Act. The components you require are available from domestic suppliers. Specifically, we provide bearings, speed reducers and scissor lifts that are available from a number of manufactures that are domestic. If more information is need to support our claim, please respond and we will gladly forward information.

James E Lawson 09/28/2021
American <ú<ø Only Products should be used for any and all future projects . I�m applaud that any other consideration was asked in the form of a waiver! AMERICAN ONLY <ú<ø<ú<ø<ú<ø

Mohan S Sharm 09/28/2021
We must not get influenced by any factor to allow buying materials from overseas suppliers unless they fully manufacture the material and equipment here in United States. We perform supplier capability assessment worldwide and for past three years within US, wen can endorse that many suppliers who were not even given opportunities to bid on projects have now seen relief and trying to work hard to improve their services and cost and they have given employment to numerous unemployed people of America due to Buy American Goods Policy. The Waiver should not be given in any circumstances for any material. Another, biggest factor here is the safety and reliability of the materials, and we should not compromise with quality of construction products and put our peoples life in danger.

Niki Hamilton 09/29/2021
How can they even consider anything but American Steele....do we want to fall apart ...then why even build it .....

Howard L Holton 09/29/2021
Consider an alternative to building "the Golden Gate Bridge Physical Suicide Deterrent System" such as redirecting the funding to mental and social health for suicide prevention within America.

PJ Muller 10/04/2021
I am all for Buy American when the parts are available, but here they are not. We see no comment that identifies which of the parts needed might be of American manufacture. Please consider that the structural steel, stainless netting, wire rope and related elements�by far the majority of the supply costs in this project�are all from US manufacturing� in Oregon, Missouri, Alabama and Connecticut. The exemption is requested for 1.3% of the project cost. All the installation will be provided by American union labor working for US contractors from California and Minnesota. And keep in mind that this is a life saving structure, without which we currently see 2-3 deaths PER MONTH. Please grant the waiver in this case and ensure there are no further project delays.

Ewa Bauer-Furbush, P.E., District Chief Engineer 10/04/2021
This is a Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District�s reply to the following September 28, 2021 comment from Mr. Clark Ricke: "Do NOT waive the Buy American Act. The components you require are available from domestic suppliers. Specifically, we provide bearings, speed reducers and scissor lifts that are available from a number of manufactures that are domestic. If more information is need to support our claim, please respond and we will gladly forward information." REPLY FROM THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, HIGHWAY AND TRANSPORTATION DISTRICT: Please let us know names of US manufacturers that can provide bearings, speed reducers and scissor lifts that are both (1) certified in writing as compliant with the Buy America rule and (2) are equivalent to those listed in our �Request letter� and �Attachment 1� to the �Request letter� (both listed below the �Notice of Buy America Waiver Request� above). Please note that these products must not only be made in the USA but all of their steel content must comply with the 23 CFR § 635.410, Buy America Requirements. As such, steel materials must be melted and manufactured, including an application of coating, in the United States. To assure the compliance, a product containing steel must be accompanied by a certificate of compliance and certified mill test reports, which indicate where steel was melted and manufactured. The new maintenance travelers have been designed to fit on and within the physical constraints of the existing Bridge structure. The Contractor developed its design for traveler mechanical drive systems, electric control systems and scissor lifts according to the Contract�s specific performance criteria, including resilience against the harsh marine environment of the Pacific Coast. The products listed in this waiver request have a proven track record and are readily available when their replacements or maintenance are required in the future. In addition, these products have been tested in similar applications to prove their reliability in their utilization in the traveler access system. Finally, the identified products are of utmost strength, quality, and durability are covered by the manufacturer�s warranty as required by the Contract. The required due diligence in searching for such products that domestic manufactures can certified as compliant with the Buy America requirements was completed prior to our waiver request submission. Except for the small traveler system components covered by our waiver request, over 4.5 million pounds of structural steel and 385,000 square feet of the stainless steel suicide deterrent net and its attachment hardware are all American steel that meets the Buy America requirements. The $2.6 million price of the manufactured products covered by the waiver request represents a very small percentage of the over $140 million project cost.

Sandra Dawson 10/07/2021
As a contractor I am in favor of Buy America clauses in contracts. But I also realize that there are some products that are not manufactured in the USA. In those cases exemptions must be granted in order for a project to be completed. In this case the exemption is being requested for just a small piece of the project and for a very specialized item. I believe the exemption should be granted.

Ewa Bauer-Furbush, P.E., District Chief Engineer 10/13/2021
Dear Mr. Ricke, I am following up on the October 4, 2021, Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District�s request for information that was addressed to you. This request, quoted below, was posted under the FHWA�s Notice of Buy America Waiver Request. Please let me know whether you can provide names of US manufacturers who satisfy conditions described in District�s reply shown below, and, if so, please email me these names. Best regards, Ewa Z. Bauer-Furbush, P.E. Chief Engineering Officer Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District Box 9000, Presidio Station San Francisco, CA 94129 ********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************* This is a Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District�s reply to the following September 28, 2021 comment from Mr. Clark Ricke: "Do NOT waive the Buy American Act. The components you require are available from domestic suppliers. Specifically, we provide bearings, speed reducers and scissor lifts that are available from a number of manufactures that are domestic. If more information is need to support our claim, please respond and we will gladly forward information." REPLY FROM THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, HIGHWAY AND TRANSPORTATION DISTRICT: Please let us know names of US manufacturers that can provide bearings, speed reducers and scissor lifts that are both (1) certified in writing as compliant with the Buy America rule and (2) are equivalent to those listed in our Request letter and Attachment 1 to the Request letter (both listed below the Notice of Buy America Waiver Request above). Please note that these products must not only be made in the USA but all of their steel content must comply with the 23 CFR § 635.410, Buy America Requirements. As such, steel materials must be melted and manufactured, including an application of coating, in the United States. To assure the compliance, a product containing steel must be accompanied by a certificate of compliance and certified mill test reports, which indicate where steel was melted and manufactured. The new maintenance travelers have been designed to fit on and within the physical constraints of the existing Bridge structure. The Contractor developed its design for traveler mechanical drive systems, electric control systems and scissor lifts according to the Contracts specific performance criteria, including resilience against the harsh marine environment of the Pacific Coast. The products listed in this waiver request have a proven track record and are readily available when their replacements or maintenance are required in the future. In addition, these products have been tested in similar applications to prove their reliability in their utilization in the traveler access system. Finally, the identified products are of utmost strength, quality, and durability are covered by the manufacturers warranty as required by the Contract. The required due diligence in searching for such products that domestic manufactures can certified as compliant with the Buy America requirements was completed prior to our waiver request submission. Except for the small traveler system components covered by our waiver request, over 4.5 million pounds of structural steel and 385,000 square feet of the stainless steel suicide deterrent net and its attachment hardware are all American steel that meets the Buy America requirements. The $2.6 million price of the manufactured products covered by the waiver request represents a very small percentage of the over $140 million project cost. ********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Ewa Bauer-Furbush, P.E., District Chief Engineer 10/20/2021
This is to follow up on the District's requests sent to Mr. Clark Ricke regarding names of US manufactures who can provide bearings, speed reducers and scissor lifts that satisfy the Buy America certification requirements in addition to satisfying the needs of the Project. As of October 20, 2021, the District has received no reply from Mr. Ricke.

Ewa Bauer-Furbush, P.E., District Chief Engineer 10/25/2021
As of October 25, 2021, I have received no reply , ether by email or by a phone call, to my email (shown below) sent to Mr. Ricke on October 13, 2021, at 12:06 PM PST: From: Ewa Bauer Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2021 12:06 PM To: clark@federalcontractscorp.com Subject: Request for information regarding names of US manufacturers related to your comment on the GGBHTD's Buy America Waiver Request Dear Mr. Ricke, I am following up on the October 4, 2021, Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District�s request for information that was addressed to you. This request, quoted below, was posted under the FHWA�s Notice of Buy America Waiver Request. Please let me know whether you can provide names of US manufacturers who satisfy conditions described in District�s reply shown below, and, if so, please email me these names. Best regards, Ewa Z. Bauer-Furbush, P.E. Chief Engineering Officer Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District Box 9000, Presidio Station San Francisco, CA 94129 ********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************* This is a Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District�s reply to the following September 28, 2021 comment from Mr. Clark Ricke: "Do NOT waive the Buy American Act. The components you require are available from domestic suppliers. Specifically, we provide bearings, speed reducers and scissor lifts that are available from a number of manufactures that are domestic. If more information is need to support our claim, please respond and we will gladly forward information." REPLY FROM THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, HIGHWAY AND TRANSPORTATION DISTRICT: Please let us know names of US manufacturers that can provide bearings, speed reducers and scissor lifts that are both (1) certified in writing as compliant with the Buy America rule and (2) are equivalent to those listed in our Request letter and Attachment 1 to the Request letter (both listed below the Notice of Buy America Waiver Request above). Please note that these products must not only be made in the USA but all of their steel content must comply with the 23 CFR § 635.410, Buy America Requirements. As such, steel materials must be melted and manufactured, including an application of coating, in the United States. To assure the compliance, a product containing steel must be accompanied by a certificate of compliance and certified mill test reports, which indicate where steel was melted and manufactured. The new maintenance travelers have been designed to fit on and within the physical constraints of the existing Bridge structure. The Contractor developed its design for traveler mechanical drive systems, electric control systems and scissor lifts according to the Contracts specific performance criteria, including resilience against the harsh marine environment of the Pacific Coast. The products listed in this waiver request have a proven track record and are readily available when their replacements or maintenance are required in the future. In addition, these products have been tested in similar applications to prove their reliability in their utilization in the traveler access system. Finally, the identified products are of utmost strength, quality, and durability are covered by the manufacturers warranty as required by the Contract. The required due diligence in searching for such products that domestic manufactures can certified as compliant with the Buy America requirements was completed prior to our waiver request submission. Except for the small traveler system components covered by our waiver request, over 4.5 million pounds of structural steel and 385,000 square feet of the stainless steel suicide deterrent net and its attachment hardware are all American steel that meets the Buy America requirements. The $2.6 million price of the manufactured products covered by the waiver request represents a very small percentage of the over $140 million project cost. ********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Updated: 07/26/2022
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000