The National Academies

NCHRP 22-35 [RFP]

Evaluation of Bridge Rail Systems to Confirm AASHTO MASH Compliance

Posted Date: 12/1/2017

  Project Data
Funds: $500,000
Contract Time: 37 months
(includes 1 month for NCHRP review and approval of each interim report and 3 months for NCHRP review and for contractor revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 6/1/2018 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Waseem Dekelbab
   Phone: 202-334-1409
   Email: wdekelbab@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 1/23/2018
Fiscal Year: 2018

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) is the latest in a series of documents that provides guidance on testing and evaluation of roadside safety features. This document, initially published in 2009 and updated in 2016, represents a comprehensive update to crash test and evaluation procedures to reflect changes in the vehicle fleet, operating conditions, and roadside safety knowledge and technology. It superseded NCHRP Report 350: Recommended Procedures for the Safety Performance Evaluation of Highway Features.
The AASHTO Technical Committee on Roadside Safety (TCRS) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have adopted a new MASH implementation plan that has compliance dates for installing MASH hardware that differ by hardware category. After December 31, 2019, all new installations of bridge rails on the NHS must have been successfully evaluated according to the 2016 edition of MASH. Similar to NCHRP Report 350, MASH defines six test levels for longitudinal barriers. With respect to AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications, each test level places an increasing level of demand on the structural capacity of a barrier system. There is a need to evaluate the most common non-proprietary bridge rail systems used throughout the states to determine the level of evaluation required to demonstrate MASH compliance.
The objective of this research is to update the AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications and the AASHTO Roadside Design Guide for bridge rail geometric design for AASHTO MASH. At a minimum, the research should include crash simulation and crash testing of the bridge railing systems that were found not satisfactory for the MASH equivalent test levels as documented in the NCHRP 20-07/ Task 395, "MASH Equivalency of NCHRP 350-Approved Bridge Railings".
Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks.
Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. 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 present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.
PHASE I—Planning
Task 1.  Review the report prepared under NCHRP Project 20-07/Task 395 (see Special Note A).
Task 2. Propose analytical and testing programs, to be executed in Phases II and III, to achieve the project objective. The analytical program should be designed using LSDYNA Finite Element Analysis (FEA) computer simulation. The testing program may include full scale crash testing and component testing.
Task 3.  Prepare Interim Report No. 1 that documents the results of Tasks 1 and 2 and provides an updated work plan for the remainder of the project. This report is due no later than 3 months after the contract award. The updated plan must describe the process and rationale for the work proposed for Phases II through IV.
Note: Following a 1-month review of Interim Report No. 1 by the NCHRP, the research team will be required to meet with the project panel to discuss the interim report. Work on Phases II through IV of the project will not begin until authorized by the NCHRP. Phase I shall be limited to $25,000.
PHASE II—Analytical Program
Task 4. Execute the analytical program according to the approved Interim Report No.1.
Task 5.  Finalize the testing program work plan including a matrix of railing systems to be tested. Describe how the testing results will be utilized to achieve the research objective.
Task 6.  Identify areas of the AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications and the AASHTO Roadside Design Guide that will be modified.
Task 7.  Prepare Interim Report No. 2 that documents the results of Tasks 4 through 6 and provides an updated work plan for the remainder of the project. This report is due no later than 12 months after approval of Phase I. The updated plan must describe the work proposed for Phases III and IV.
Note: Following a 1-month review of Interim Report No. 2 by the NCHRP, the research team will be required to meet with the project panel to discuss the interim report. Work on Phase III of the project will not begin until authorized by the NCHRP. Phase II shall be limited to $150,000.
PHASE III—Testing Program
Task 8.  Execute the testing program according to the approved Interim Report No.2.
Task 9.  Validate the analytical program based on the testing results and update accordingly.
Task 10. Prepare Interim Report No. 3 that documents the results of Tasks 8 and 9 no later than 12 months after approval of Phase II.
Note: Following a 1-month review of Interim Report No. 3 by the NCHRP, the research team will be required to meet with the project panel to discuss the interim report, if necessary. Work on Phase IV of the project will not begin until authorized by the NCHRP.
PHASE IV—Final Products
Task 11. Develop the draft proposed AASHTO modifications based on the research results including barrier hardware system template similar to the AASHTO Guide to Standardized Highway Barrier Hardware according to the approved Interim Report No.3. The draft proposed AASHTO modifications are due no later than 3 months after approval of Phase III.
Task 12. Prepare final deliverables including: (1) the proposed AASHTO modifications that reflect consideration of the panel’s review comments, (2) a final report that documents the entire research effort, and (3) a stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products.” See Special Note E for additional information.
Note: Phases III and IV shall be limited to $325,000. Following receipt of the draft final report, the remaining 3 months shall be for NCHRP review and comment and for research agency preparation of the revised final report.
A. The final report prepared under NCHRP Project 20-07/Task 395 shall be considered as a basis for works conducted under this research. The final deliverable is available at: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=4214.
B. During the research, the research team should anticipate making presentations to appropriate technical committees at two annual meetings of the AASHTO Committee on Bridges and Structures and the AASHTO Technical Committee on Roadside Safety.
C. To ensure that data produced under this project are accessible, a data archiving and sharing plan shall be prepared by the agency performing the research. The plan must be submitted with Task 4 and shall include a description of expected activities, schedules, limitations, milestones, and required resources. Researchers should describe briefly the expected schedule for data production and archiving in the NCHRP permanent repository, the format of the final dataset, the documentation to be provided, and whether or not any analytic tools and/or results also will be provided. The plan must include a description of actions planned to ensure quality. Moreover, the plan must specify the resources required to archive and distribute the data expected to be obtained in the course of performing the research. In general, public release of data will not occur before full review and approval by the NCHRP project panel.
The data archiving and sharing plan must include the following sections:
  • Background and significance;
  • Expected data formats;
  • Description of data archiving and quality assurance plan;
  • Description of data sharing plan;
  • Schedule for data archiving and public release of data;
  • Milestones for the implementation of the plan; and
  • Resources and budget.  
D. 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.
E. 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_ActiveImlementation.pdf.
F. Item 5 in the proposal, "Qualifications of the Research Team," 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.
G. 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 in the same or closely related problem area; (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.
H. 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 1/23/2018.

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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