Your input is needed on Federal Highways rulemaking for the issuance of waivers for the Recreational Trails Program.
TAKE ACTION: The Federal Highways Administration (FHA) is currently seeking additional input on our previous request for a programmatic waiver of the Buy American Built American (BABA) requirements for the Recreational Trails Program (RTP).
The RTP program is a major component of snowmobile association operations that has been heavily impacted by the recent expansion of the Buy America requirements for FHA projects. These impacts have been compounded by the conflicting guidance and almost silence on implementation of the BABA provisions for RTP.
Without the issuance of waivers, RTP funds would functionally become useless for most recreational projects as compliance with the BABA provisions is almost impossible. USA previously requested a general waiver for the entire RTP program but we are also open to any other resolutions that may be available.
Action Alert: Waivers for Recreational Trails Program
Below are an outline of issues for you to provide comments on. (Please add any personal experiences that you have had with the RTP program.)
- RTP is VERY different from other FHWA programs as RTP facilitates a huge amount of volunteer support to complete projects and often time this volunteer support far exceeds the value of funding for the effort from RTP. Most FHWA projects do not rely on volunteers in any manner.
- The RTP program is funded by federal fuel tax for use of fuels in OHV and Snowmobiles. The value of this revenue is estimated $300 million per year but only 85 million is returned to the RTP program. As a result, the overwhelming portion of RTP revenues would still be applied pursuant to BABA requirements.
- Documentation of Buy American Steel efforts previously has been difficult. BABA compliance has only compounded these problems. As an example, if RTP funded a trailhead kiosk, BABA compliance would have to be provided for the wood used in the Kiosk, any screws or nails used, the concrete used to hold the kiosk and any roofing materials. This is simply not viable or reasonable to ask volunteers to attempt to obtain and could functionally stop the RTP program from functioning entirely.
- Availability of grooming equipment used by the snowmobile community is exceptionally limited and most manufacturers are not BABA compliant. The snowmobile community is not large enough to drive these manufacturers to change their global business model making most equipment non-BABA compliant for the foreseeable future.
- Providing a programmatic waiver for RTP would make FHWA consistent with BABA standards for other agencies, such as Dept of Agriculture, US Treasury and EPA who have already issued programmatic waivers similar to the ones USA has requested previously. Consistency across the agencies will allow streamlined management efforts and ease the burden on the volunteers who are leveraging the RTP funds.
- Most RTP grants fall well below the general governmental threshold for minimum acquisitions and triggering of BABA requirements applied by all other agencies. RTP has never issued waivers based on this threshold. If a programmatic waiver would not be provided we would ask for clear guidance of the minimum acquisition threshold standards for the RTP program moving forward.
A full copy of USA’s original request for waivers is available here
Click here for FHWA portal for submissions of your comments and concerns.