DAVID GIONGCO Caltrans Local Assistance Engineer

NHS Expanded – How Does It Impact Your Project?

Under MAP-21, the National Highway System (NHS) was recently expanded to incorporate principal arterials not previously included.  If your federal-aid project includes roadways classified as principal arterials, below is a list of areas where NHS requirements may now apply:

FIELD REVIEWS

Caltrans will determine if a formal field review is required for all projects on the NHS.  Generally, a formal field review will only be required for significant NHS projects.  A project will be considered to be significant if:

  • The total cost is over $10 million, or
  • It involves an unusual structure (see definitions in Section 2.4 of this manual), or
  • It involves multiple projects on a corridor involving more than one agency, or
  • Any other complicating factors require a field review.

PS&E PROCEDURES FOR SIGNIFICANT NHS PROJECTS

PS&E procedures (standards, agencies involved, use of consultants, project management, specifications, etc.) require Caltrans approval before final design is initiated. With approval, the local agency will then certify their PS&E(s) for these projects the same as they do for non-NHS projects upon completion of the PS&E. Caltrans may review the PS&E(s) if resources are available, or as part of a process review. NHS projects that are not “significant” will not require these approval procedures.

DESIGN STANDARDS

Local agencies are required to use only AASHTO, 3R, and other design standards officially approved for use on NHS projects that are off the SHS. For SHS projects, Caltrans standards are to be used. Locally approved design standards are not allowed on NHS projects, except Caltrans may approve exceptions on a project-by-project basis except on High Profile projects, which requires FHWA approval.

STANDARD SPECIFICATIONS

Local standard specifications may be used for projects on the NHS, provided they have been reviewed and approved for such use by Caltrans. For locally sponsored projects on the SHS, Caltrans Standard Plans and Specifications must be used.

RESTRICTED CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT PROVISIONS

Warranty clauses are restricted on NHS projects.

BRIDGE RAILINGS

Bridge rail on NHS projects must meet crash test requirements of NCHRP 350.

VALUE ENGINEERING ANALYSIS

Required for all (non design-build) NHS projects over $50M or NHS bridge projects over $40M.

CONTRACT TIME

For projects on the NHS, the contract time shall be specified in the bidding documents and shall be monitored by the administering agency.

LIQUIDATED DAMAGES

Federal law requires the provision for liquidated damages on all federal-aid projects on the NHS.

QUALITY – PRICE ADJUSTMENT CLAUSES

The FHWA has traditionally endorsed the use of incentive provisions up to five percent of the unit bid price for improved quality provided they are based on readily measured physical properties that reflect improved performance. Incentives greater than five percent on NHS projects are considered on a case-by-case basis following an analysis of performance data.

RIGHT OF WAY

FHWA is responsible for acceptance of Right of Way Certification for projects on the NHS where total project costs exceed $1 million.

CONTRACT AWARD

For all NHS projects, a bid analysis will be performed. For NHS projects, written justification shall be included in the project file for projects where the lowest responsible bidder exceeds the engineer’s estimate by 10% or more. The justification should explain the reasons for the difference between the engineer’s estimate and bid amount, and why it was decided to award the contract.

TERMINATION OF CONTRACTS

All NHS contracts exceeding $10,000 shall contain suitable provisions for termination by the administering agency, including the manner by which the termination will be effected and the basis for settlement. In addition, such contracts shall describe conditions under which the contract may be terminated for default as well as conditions where the contract may be terminated because of circumstances beyond the control of the contractor.

CCOs/CLAIMs

For NHS projects, major change orders will be approved by DLAE prior to performance of work.

QUALITY ASSURANCE

NHS projects must follow quality assurance procedures detailed in LAPM Section 16.14.

These are some of the requirements that apply to NHS projects.  If you have any other requirements that you’d like to share, please post them in the comments.

Additional references:

  • MAP-21:  http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/map21/
  • NHS Website:  http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/national_highway_system/
  • Caltrans Highway Systems Engineering Branch:  http://dot.ca.gov/hq/tsip/hseb/nhs.html