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Vermont Agency of Transportation
SEP-14 WORK PLAN (and attachments)

Utilizing Maintenance Rental Agreements (MRA) for Various Preventive Maintenance, Preservation, and Repair Contracting Needs

Special Experimental Project No. 14 (SEP 14)
Alternative Contracting
January 5, 2009


The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) has nine (9) Transportation Maintenance Districts statewide (see attached map or http://www.aot.state.vt.us/Maint/mainthome.htm). The Districts are responsible for all maintenance activities on the state highway system. Each District is managed by a District Transportation Administrator (DTA).

The VTrans Maintenance Districts accomplish their scheduled roadway and bridge preventive maintenance, preservation and repair projects using state forces and contractors to do the work. In some cases, a combination of state forces and contractors are used together to accomplish project objectives. Historically, State dedicated funds have been used for these activities.

When contractors are utilized to accomplish work, they are obtained through the use of Maintenance Rental Agreements (MRA). The MRA instrument is a non-determinate location/non-determinate quantity type contract. The prices in the MRA are based on the estimated labor and equipment to perform the work. All costs are based on local pricing (local prevailing wage rates, overhead and profit and risk assessment and equipment costs). In general, contractors provide rates for various locations throughout the state where they want to do work. This proven method is suitable for addressing the various preventive maintenance, preservation and repair needs of the state.

All contractors that are responsive to meet the requirements of the MRA Request for Proposal (RFP) are awarded contracts through the VTrans Contract Administration Section but administered by the Operations Division. There is no guarantee of work assignments. Once a work project is developed, contractor selection is then based on the lowest rates, experience, and availability. In some cases, contractors are requested for lump sum contracts to provide labor, equipment, and materials.

With more than 18 years of experience using MRA contracts, VTrans has been able to address numerous "smaller" infrastructure needs in both a timely and cost-effective manner. However, because of the nature of the MRA, federal-aid participation with this instrument has generally been limited to "emergency" situations (CFR 635.204(b)). Moreover, seeking to address small preventive maintenance, preservation, and repair type projects with federal-aid participation is often cumbersome and time-consuming because of the required federal-aid competitive bidding process and procedures. Since State maintenance dollars for these types of projects can not often be leveraged against federal dollars, smaller infrastructure needs often go unaddressed until more significant damage ensues requiring much more costly repairs.


The purpose of this work plan is to provide a format to evaluate the use of Federal-aid for Maintenance Rental Agreements (MRA) to address various contracting needs. Specifically, VTrans is requesting Federal-aid participation on Category II MRA under the Federal "Alternative Contracting" Special Experimental Project No. 14 (SEP-14) program. The VTrans Procedures for procuring Category II MRA are attached.

Scope and Schedule

VTrans is requesting approval to use federal-aid funds - HBR, STP, and/or IM - to participate in three categories of work for preventive maintenance, preservation, and repair activities under the SEP-14 "Alternative Contracting" program. The three categories of work to be done using MRA Category II contracts and State maintenance forces are as follows:

  • Bridge and/or Large Culvert Rehabilitation and/or Repair and Maintenance
  • Bridge Beam Heat Straightening (if no third party costs are recovered)
  • Paving and/or Surface Treatments

The duration of this program will be 3 years from the date of approval.

Overall federal-aid participation will be limited to $9 million total over the 3 year period. This level of funding equates to approximately 2% of the federal-aid dollars (not including earmarks) available to VTrans to accomplish their mission.

This alternative contracting method will utilize contractors through MRA contracts, and in some cases address project needs using a combination of both state forces and contractors. It is expected that when state forces are used for actual construction work, the percentage of a project's cost applicable to state force participation will generally be in the order of 10 to 20 percent. However, in some cases, project costs attributable to state force participation in the actual construction work may exceed 20 percent. Thus, to provide flexibility to the State with respect to force account participation (on a project by project basis) as well as to limit the overall use of state forces for this alternative contracting method, federal-aid participation (reimbursement) in state force costs for actual construction work will be limited to 20 percent of the overall total spent on this alternative contracting program.

The VTrans Operations Division will act as the overall administrator of this "Alternative Contracting" program. However, the VTrans Program Development Division (PDD) with the assistance of the Operations Division will be responsible for developing appropriate projects. Additionally, VTrans PDD with the assistance of the Operations Division will be responsible for submitting annual status reports and a final evaluation report to FHWA.

Each MRA will be administered in general accordance with the guidelines established in the VTrans Maintenance Rental Agreement Procedures, the VTrans Force Account Guidance, and the VTrans Materials Quality Assurance Program (with exceptions as noted in this "alternative contracting" proposal). These documents discuss the various state and federal requirements that typically need to be addressed for VTrans projects, including but not limited to: PS&E development, environmental permitting and NEPA, utility and ROW certifications, and materials quality assurance and control.

Quality Assurance for the projects advanced under the SEP-14 request will be handled in accordance with the local FHWA Division office's approved Quality Assurance Program (QAP).

VTrans PDD will keep records for each federal-aid project within each overall MRA contract. Project records will include a PS&E (plans, specifications, and estimate), but the PS&E package will generally be of a more limited and simplified nature when compared to the typical competitive bid package. Records will include any appropriate certifications, environmental permits, contract documents, etc. that may be required to accomplish the project (ex. ROW and utility certifications, CE, stream alteration permit, etc.). Actual project costs will be tracked. Included in cost tracking will be the portion of project costs attributable to contractors, to state administration of the project, and to state force account participation in the actual physical construction work when applicable.

Additional program criteria include:

  • FHWA 1273 will be included in all MRA contracts.
  • Projects will be included in VTrans Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP).
  • Certification regarding Debarment, Suspension, Ineligibility, and Voluntary Exclusion (49 CFR 29)
  • Certification regarding the Use of Contract Funds for Lobbying (23 CFR 635.112(g))
  • Non collusion Statement (23 CFR 635.112(f))
  • With respect to the use of federal funds - HBR, STP, and/or IM - the usual eligibility criteria for "types of work" will still apply.
  • When state forces are used in combination with MRA contracts to complete actual physical construction work, VTrans will not be required to provide a public interest finding (cost-effectiveness justification).
  • For projects with anticipated construction duration of less than one month, jobsite posters, as an alternative, will be posted at the contractors' offices or at the jobsite and workers will be given copies.
  • Each MRA contract will have a maximum limiting amount (MLA) ranging from $250,000.00 to $1,000,000.00 according to category
  • Approximately 30 - 40 MRA contracts can be let under this program.
  • VTrans will include every VTrans Maintenance District in the program.
  • Application of MRA for the preventive maintenance, preservation, and repair of other highway assets may be explored within the program and subject to the concurrence of the local FHWA Division Administrator.


For the duration of the program VTrans will track and report various items and evaluate the effectiveness of this federal-aid alternative contracting method.

Of primary importance are answers to the following concerns:

  • Can MRA contracts with federal-aid participation help VTrans meet preventive maintenance, preservation and repair needs in a timely and cost-effective manner?
  • What other federal-aid eligible transportation activities could be effectively contracted through MRA?

Some additional specific areas of interest are:

  • Staffing requirements for the oversight and administration of the MRA contracts.
  • The contractor's ability/willingness to prepare a MRA proposal in a timely manner.
  • Has all work performed met the limits of programmatic categorical exclusion?
  • Have the procedures listed in the VTrans Maintenance Rental Agreement Procedures, the VTrans Force Account Guidance, and the VTrans Materials Quality Assurance Program been followed (i.e. notwithstanding any exceptions noted in this proposal)
  • What are the limitations of this alternative contracting process compared to typical competitive bid for work?
  • How can cost savings and/or time savings be determined?

Interviews with VTrans staff involved with the letting and execution of MRA contracts, along with contractors, will be conducted to determine how the MRA process compares to the traditional contracting mechanism.


Three reports - initial, interim, and final - will be developed for this alternative contracting program. Reports will be submitted to the local FHWA Division office in electronic form. These reports will be forwarded to FHWA Headquarters (HIPA-30) by the local FHWA Division office.

Initial Report

Within 2 months of the conclusion of the first year of the program, VTrans PDD with the assistance of Operations will submit an initial status report to FHWA. The report will provide a listing (spreadsheet acceptable) of the projects that have gone forward under this alternative contracting method. As a minimum, information on each project will include the following items: project name, location, scope, cost estimate, expenditures to date (broken down by state and federal portions), and status of project (in progress, substantially complete, on hold, etc). Additionally, the report will discuss any industry reaction to this alternative contracting method.

Interim Report

Within 2 months of the conclusion of the second year of the program, VTrans PDD with the assistance of Operations will submit an interim status report to FHWA. This report will include the same (but updated) information required for the initial Report. Additionally, the report will discuss any issues arising from this alternative contracting method with respect to work performance and monitoring, quality, completion time, claims, and other contract administration or legal issues.

Final Report

Within 4 months of the conclusion of the 3-year program timeframe, VTrans PDD with the assistance of Operations will submit a final evaluation report to FHWA. In a fashion similar to the initial and interim reports, the final report will update and summarize all of the projects that have gone forward under this alternative contracting program as well as any issues that have arisen. Additionally, the report will address each of the concerns and areas of interest as outlined in the "Measures" section of this alternative contracting work plan. Included in the report will be suggestions for improvements, pitfalls to avoid and a recommendation as to further use of this alternative contracting method.

List of Attachments

  • Map of VTrans Maintenance Districts (http://www.aot.state.vt.us/Maint/mainthome.htm)
  • VTrans Category II Maintenance Rental Agreement Procedures
  • Sample Request for Proposal (RFP) letter and attachments
  • Sample Category II Maintenance Rental Agreement
Maintenance Rental Agreement Procedures
Category II:
  1. Agreements in this category involve specific types of work that typically occur statewide and are expected to exceed $50,000.00 each year.
  2. The types of work in this category, although in excess of $50,000.00, consist of work normally covered under a rental agreement arrangement.
  3. The types of work performed under this category include but are not limited to:
    1. A. Bridge Painting (involves rental of bridge painting equipment) - $250,000.
    2. Bridge and/or Large Culvert Rehabilitation, Repair and/or Maintenance (involves rental of bridge and/or culvert repair equipment, greasing bearings, joints, joint repairs, weep tubes, scouring and other related bridge maintenance) - $1,000,000.
    3. Paving and/or Surface Treatments (involves rental of pavers, 8 ton or heavier rollers, emulsion distributor trucks and includes other equipment related to the paving process) - $1,000,000.
    4. Roadside Mowing - $250,000.
    5. Ledge/Slope Stabilization - $500,000.
    6. Drainage System Cleaning and/or Inspection - $250,000.
    7. Crack & Joint Sealing & Repair - $250,000.
    8. Heat Straightening (involves heating damaged steel beams on bridges) - $500,000.
  4. Agreements in this category will be handled as one statewide contract that all Districts will use as needed, as opposed to individual contracts in each District.
  5. The procurement of contractors to perform these services will include the following information and process:
    1. Operations and/or Program Development will develop Scopes of Work for each type of agreement in this category or any other major work category requested by the Maintenance Engineer.
    2. An anticipated statewide dollar value to be expended during the contract period will be estimated so that contract maximum limiting amounts can be determined.
    3. Contract term will be one year. Negotiated rates may be added to the contract without amending the contract.
    4. The Contract Administration Section will prepare and send out the Request for Proposal (RFP).

      The RFPs for the above mentioned work will include appropriate federal provisions in the likelihood of work under these agreements.

      The RFPs will request that the contractors submit rates for each piece of equipment anticipated for that work. The contractor shall only submit rates for the equipment specified. If additional unrelated equipment is included, the unrelated equipment shall be excluded from the agreement.

      All overhead including expenses, lodging meals, etc. will be incorporated in the hourly rate.

      Contractors will be asked to provide an hourly rate for transporting equipment to and from the work site. Equipment moved to and from the work site for the convenience of the contractor will not be considered for reimbursement.

      In RFPs with federal provisions, contractors will be asked to submit two sets of rates - rates for state funded work and rates for work with federal funds.

      The contractor will be asked to specify which districts they are available to work in.

      The contractor will be allowed to quote different prices for each district in which they wish to work. Depending on the assignments, payment will be based on the rates listed in the contract or a lump sum amount agreed upon by the contractor and the VTrans authorized representative.

      The RFP will contain the following evaluation factors to be used by the selection committee in selecting contractors to perform work:

      • experience and qualifications to do work
      • reasonable rates
      • past performance
  6. The RFP will be sent to a number of qualified contractors. At a minimum the RFP will be sent to contractors on the Maintenance Rental Agreement contractors list, as well as any additional firms recommended by the DTAs. The RFP will also be placed on the Electronic Bulletin Board as well as Contract Administration's RFP website. From the time the RFP package is mailed out, through the processing and execution of a Maintenance Rental Agreement, all communication between the contractor and the Agency is with the Contract Administration Section.
  7. Financial information will not be requested from the contractor. The reason being, if the contractor is not able to perform the work for financial reasons, they will not be used.
  8. Upon receipt of proposals, a selection committee will meet to evaluate proposals and select firms based on the above mentioned criteria. It is intended that all firms submitting proposals that are qualified and submit reasonable rates will be offered a contract.
  9. The selection committee at a minimum will consist of the Director of Operations (Chair), Maintenance Program Engineer, at least one DTA, a Contract Administration representative and an Audit representative.

    The Contract Administration Section will prepare and process the agreements. The agreements will be processed in accordance with Bulletin 3.5 except that agreements in excess of $3,000,000.00 will need Administration approval. Those agreements having the potential for federally funded work will contain appropriate federal provisions.

    Federal-aid projects will require categorical exclusion, utility and right-of-way clearance prior to the commencement of work. Program Development Division will acquire these clearances along with developing an estimate and plans for federal-aid projects only. Note: the right-of-way clearance is not to be used for permanent right-of-way taking. Refer to the Right-of-Way Procedures established and approved by FHWA when questions arise.

  1. Once under contract the DTA will use discretion in selecting firms for each individual assignment. Assignments of work will be based on the cost to perform a particular assignment, the contractor's availability and/or ability to complete an assignment within a specified time period. The DTA should solicit quotes from at least three (3) or more contractors.
  2. Equipment may be added without an amendment to the contract. An increase in the MLA &/or time will require an amendment.
Updated: 06/27/2017
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