The National Academies

NCHRP 14-41 [RFP]

Permanent Vegetation Control Treatments for Roadsides

Posted Date: 11/1/2017

  Project Data
Funds: $200,000
Contract Time: 24 months
(includes 2 months for NCHRP review and approval of the interim deliverables and 3 months for NCHRP review and for contractor revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 4/1/2018 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Ann M. Hartell
   Phone: 202/334-2369
   Email: ahartell@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 1/17/2018
Fiscal Year: 2018

Control of vegetation along roadsides is required for fire prevention, adequate sight distance, facility inspection needs, reduction of invasive and nuisance weeds, roadside aesthetics, and protection of roadside appurtenances. Roadside vegetation can be controlled using herbicides, mowers, and other equipment or by permanent vegetation controls.
Permanent vegetation controls are designed to prevent or significantly retard the growth of unwanted vegetation. Using a permanent vegetation control decreases the need for recurring chemical and mechanical vegetation control, thus reducing recurring maintenance costs, highway worker exposure to traffic, impacts to the environment and cultural resources, and maintenance-related delays to the traveling public. Additional advantages include maintaining the integrity of highway surfaces by controlling erosion and damage to the pavement structure from encroaching roots and water intrusion. However, permanent vegetation controls vary in their effectiveness, longevity, initial construction costs, maintenance requirements, and aesthetic values. Some treatments may also affect the safety performance of highway appurtenances, such as guardrails, cable barriers, and signs. For example, continuous asphalt or concrete may potentially result in pocketing or rupture of strong-post guardrails.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Guidelines for Vegetation Management (Guidelines), published in 2011, collected and compiled information about roadside vegetation management. Many state departments of transportation (DOTs) utilize the Guidelines in their vegetation management programs. Chapter 12 of the Guidelines cataloged a range of permanent vegetation controls (including concrete and asphalt surface treatments, mats, mulches, and competitive vegetation); however, information for some situations is missing, for example, controls for use with cable barriers. Furthermore, research and agency experience have yielded additional methods and technologies, as well as insights into the effectiveness of permanent vegetation controls and under what conditions a particular control is appropriate. Therefore, updated guidance on the selection of appropriate permanent vegetation controls is needed.
The objective of this research is to produce up-to-date guidance for transportation agencies for selecting appropriate permanent vegetation controls that will be effective in preventing or significantly retarding the growth of unwanted vegetation around roadside appurtenances and along roadsides.  The guidance will identify controls appropriate for new construction and for existing facilities. In addition, the guidance will describe how to select effective permanent vegetation controls that also address traveler and highway worker safety and costs of construction and maintenance, as well as minimize adverse environmental impacts.
Anticipated research products are a report and a recorded webinar, video, or similar product suitable for disseminating the research results. The report should, at a minimum, include:
  • A literature review that summarizes and synthesizes information about permanent vegetation controls from peer-reviewed research, gray literature (such as the results of state DOT research and pilot projects), state vegetation control guidelines, and information collected through targeted contacts with technical experts and practitioners.
  • A compilation of permanent vegetation controls. For each treatment, the following should be provided:
-            information on initial cost and constructability
-            ongoing maintenance requirements
-            longevity
-            appropriate site conditions (e.g., soils, traffic volumes, aesthetic factors)
-            appropriate ecological and climate conditions (e.g., frostlines, precipitation, winter maintenance requirements)
-            type of vegetation effectively suppressed
-           suitability for use in conjunction with the installation, repair, and replacement of common types of roadside appurtenances
  • Recommended permanent vegetation controls for a range of roadside conditions. For each recommendation, identify supporting evidence from the literature.

  • Graphical presentation of recommended permanent vegetation controls to allow ready comparisons and to facilitate coordination of vegetation management with roadside design. The graphical presentation should also be publishable as a stand-alone document. (An example of a potential layout is the table of cable barriers provided by the Federal Highway Administration Office of Safety and available at: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/roadway_dept/countermeasures/docs/Cable_Sep2012Saferlogo.pdf).

  • A brief summary of recommendations for additional needed updates to the Guidelines.

The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must represent the proposers’ current thinking described in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach in meeting the research objective. The work proposed must be divided into tasks. Proposers must describe the work proposed in each task in detail.
The research team should include individuals with expertise in vegetation management and in the design, testing, and evaluation of roadside hardware.
The research plan should build in appropriate checkpoints and interim deliverables including, at a minimum, (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the contract’s execution date; (2) a draft literature review; (3) a technical memorandum with draft recommendations for permanent vegetation controls and relevant supporting evidence; and (4) at least one face-to-face interim review meeting, as well as web-enabled teleconferences tied to panel review and/or NCHRP approval of interim deliverables.
The final deliverables will include (1) a final report for print and electronic publication;(2) graphic or tabular presentation of permanent vegetation controls; and (3) an electronic presentation of the research results (webinar, video, or similar).
  1. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the brochure, "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals" (http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/crp/docs/ProposalPrep.pdf). Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000. 
  1. NCHRP wishes to award the contract for Project 14-41 for a fixed price of $200,000; this amount will not be subject to any adjustment by reason of the contractor’s cost experience in the performance of the contract. In addition to providing a detailed budget, the proposer should provide a proposed schedule of project milestones, deliverables and progress payments that is tied to the detailed budget and schedule. 
  1. For budgeting purposes, proposers should assume that NCHRP will provide access to web-enabled teleconference services. Proposers should assume one in-person meeting with the NCHRP project panel will be held in Washington, DC; NCHRP will pay panel members’ travel costs for the meeting.
  1. Item 4 in the proposal, “Research Plan,” is limited to 15 pages.
  1. The NCHRP is a practical, applied research program that produces implementable products addressing problems faced by transportation practitioners and managers. The benefits of NCHRP research are realized only when the results are implemented in state DOTs and other agencies. Implementation of the research product must be considered throughout the process, from problem statement development to research contract and beyond completion of the research. Item 4(c), "Anticipated Research Results," must include the following: (a) the "product" expected from the research, (b) the audience or "market" for this product, (c) a realistic assessment of impediments to successful implementation, and (d) the institutions and individuals who might take leadership in deploying the research product. The project panel will develop and maintain an implementation plan throughout the life of the project. The research team will be expected to provide input to an implementation team consisting of panel members, AASHTO committee members, the NCHRP Implementation Coordinator, and others in order to meet the goals of NCHRP Active Implementation: Moving Research into Practice, available at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP_ActiveImplementation.pdf.
  1. Item 5 in the proposal, "Qualifications of the Research Team,"(shall not exceed one page per person) must include a section labeled "Disclosure." Information relevant to the NCHRP's need to ensure objectivity and to be aware of possible sources of significant financial or organizational conflict of interest in conducting the research must be presented in this section of the proposal. For example, under certain conditions, ownership of the proposing agency, other organizational relationships, or proprietary rights and interests could be perceived as jeopardizing an objective approach to the research effort, and proposers are asked to disclose any such circumstances and to explain how they will be accounted for in this study. If there are no issues related to objectivity, this should be stated.
  1. Proposals are evaluated by the NCHRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively very knowledgeable in the problem area. Selection of an agency is made by the project panel considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) the proposer's plan for participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises--small firms owned and controlled by minorities or women; and (6) the adequacy of the facilities.
Note: The proposer's plan for participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 12 of the proposal.
  1. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.

Proposals (15 single-bound copies) are due not later than 4:30 p.m. on 1/17/2018.

This is a firm deadline, and extensions are not granted. In order to be considered for award, all copies of the agency's proposal accompanied by the executed, unmodified Liability Statement must be in our offices not later than the deadline shown, or the proposal will be rejected. Proposers may choose any carrier or delivery service for their proposals. However, proposers assume the risk of proposal rejection if the carrier or delivery service does not deliver all the required documents by the deadline.

Delivery Address:

ATTN: Christopher J. Hedges
Director, Cooperative Research Programs
Transportation Research Board
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Liability Statement

The signature of an authorized representative of the proposing agency is required on the unaltered liability statement in order for the NCHRP to accept the agency's proposal for consideration. Proposals submitted without this executed and unaltered statement by the proposal deadline will be summarily rejected. An executed, unaltered statement indicates the agency's intent and ability to execute a contract that includes the provisions in the statement.

Here is a printable version of the Liability Statement (pdf). A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is available at http://www.adobe.com.

General Notes

1. According to the provisions of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 21, which relates to nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, all parties are hereby notified that the contract entered into pursuant to this announcement will be awarded without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.

2. The essential features required in a proposal for research are detailed in the current brochure entitled "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals" (updated August 2016). Proposals must be prepared according to this document, and attention is directed specifically to Section V for mandatory requirements. Proposals that do not conform with these requirements will be rejected. This brochure is available here.

3. The total funds available are made known in the project statement, and line items of the budget are examined to determine the reasonableness of the allocation of funds to the various tasks. If the proposed total cost exceeds the funds available, the proposal is rejected.

4. All proposals become the property of the Transportation Research Board. Final disposition will be made according to the policies thereof, including the right to reject all proposals.


Potential proposers should understand clearly that the research project described herein is tentative. The final content of the program depends on the level of funding made available through States' agreements for financial support of the NCHRP. Nevertheless, to be prepared to execute research contracts as soon as possible after sponsors' approvals, the NCHRP is assuming that the tentative program will become official in its entirety and is proceeding with requests for proposals and selections of research agencies.

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