ODOT Traffic Engineering Manual
Patented or proprietary materials, specifications, or processes shall not be included in a contract unless one of the following conditions applies:
1. The item is to be purchased or obtained through competitive bidding with equally suitable items. In which case, the plans shall specify a minimum of two acceptable items and include the phrase “or approved equal.”
2. No equally suitable alternate exists.
3. The item is essential for compatibility or synchronization with, or maintenance of, existing facilities or equipment.
4. The item is used for research, or for a distinctive type of construction, on relatively short sections of a facility for experimental purposes.
5. There is a determination by the District Deputy Director (DDD) that it is in the best public interest to specify one such item, to the exclusion of any other acceptable alternate.
Where a single item is specified, as in conditions 2 through 5, a request and justification shall be submitted to the appropriate District. The District shall evaluate the request; coordinate with the DDD, and when the situation described in condition 5 applies, coordinate with FHWA if appropriate; and subsequently notify the requesting agency of the disposition of the request.
Where research or experimentation is proposed, it will also be necessary to set up an evaluation program.
In the case of traffic signals, the vast majority of proprietary bid requests are made for controllers or emergency vehicle preemption. The following are guidelines on when Districts should consider the use of proprietary bids instead of alternate bids:
1. The signal controllers are an extension of an existing arterial coordinated signal system. Typically the number of controllers being added is less than the number of existing controllers in the system. The coordinated arterial may be controlled by either on-street masters, directly by a central control center or simple hardwire with time based control. There should be no upgrading of the existing controllers, or the upgraded existing controllers will be evaluated as new/added controllers.
2. At least 50% of the agency’s controllers are of a single brand. This is in recognition of the significant investment made by the maintaining agency. There should be no upgrading of the existing controllers, or the upgraded existing controllers will be evaluated as new/added controllers.
Preemption equipment and video detection may also be considered if 50% of the agency’s signalized intersections operate with a single brand of equipment. The extension of preemption equipment on an existing preempted arterial will not be a basis for approval of proprietary bids for preemption equipment.
3. If at least 50% of the agency’s equipment is comprised of 2 brands, consideration may be given to limiting the bids to the 2 brands without the use of the phrase “or approved equal”.
4. If at least 50% of the agency’s controllers are of a single brand, central control software upgrades may be considered. The single brand controllers do not have to be presently connected to the central control. Upgraded existing controllers will be evaluated as new/added controllers. The addition of an interconnection card to an existing controller is not considered an upgrade to the controller.
5. Aesthetically designed signal supports may be considered if at least 50% of the agency’s signalized intersections utilize the supports. Extension of an arterial with existing aesthetically designed signal supports will not be a basis for approval of proprietary bids.
Proprietary bids for aesthetically designed highway lighting supports should not be considered because of the numerous manufacturers of similar support designs.
In lieu of proprietary bids for aesthetically designed signal or lighting supports, alternate bids may be taken using 3 brands of similar aesthetically designed supports for the generic bid and an alternate bid for the preferred choice. If 3 brands of similarly designed signal supports are not utilized, the generic bid will typically be for a standard painted TC-81.20 mast arm support.
For the occasional proprietary bid request that does not comprise the most common project work items, the District may submit the request to an ad hoc committee for review. The committee will be composed of representatives from ODOT Central Office, Districts, and the FHWA.
When determining if a proprietary bid is justified, the District must make every possible effort to determine that an alternate bid will not suffice instead of a proprietary bid. When a District determines that a proprietary bid is justified, written documentation must be kept on file supporting the use of proprietary items.
Should the request not be approved, the District must inform the requesting agency that it may consider alternate bidding procedures, and that Federal-aid participation will be based on the lowest price so established.