California Department of Transportation

DIB 83-02 - 10.1 New Product Approval Process and Construction-Evaluated Experimental Feature Program


10.1 New Product Approval Process and Construction-Evaluated Experimental Feature Program

10.1 New Product Approval Process and Construction-Evaluated Experimental Feature Program

A significant number of the rehabilitation techniques that have been identified in this D.I.B. include new products, which have not yet been formally approved for use by Caltrans as such; specifications have not been developed or adopted. In 1995, the Department issued Deputy Directive DD-45, which established Caltrans policy on new product evaluations, defined a “new product,” and instituted the position of New Product Coordinator appointed by the Engineering Services Division Chief. See Appendix B for a flow chart of the New Product Approval Process. New Product Evaluation Guidelines are available on-line at the following web site address:

The intent of the Construction-Evaluated (C-E) Experimental Feature Program is to field test the constructability and performance of promising new products, techniques and methods relating to highway facilities. A feature is considered experimental whenever it involves a “non-standard” item or process, or a “proprietary” (brand-name) product.

The C-E Program is not a method for approving a “non-standard” item or process, or a “proprietary” construction feature without proper evaluation and reporting (federal funds can be rescinded during the audit process if this is determined). However, the C-E Program may be a useful tool for using some of the non-approved products described in this D.I.B. and may help justify their ultimate approval for use within the new product process described above.

After a C-E project is approved, Caltrans typically evaluates how the feature is performing over a three to five year period. Under federal guidelines, Caltrans is generally limited to five projects exhibiting the same experimental feature.

The Resource Conservation Branch within Headquarters Division of Design is assigned the responsibility to act as Caltrans’ liaison with FHWA and is their delegated authority for State authorized projects concerning all C-E projects. Although the C-E Project Program is a federal effort, it is important that experimental projects involving “state only” funds also be reported and monitored by the Resource Conservation Branch. To obtain approval for an experimental feature, a work plan should be submitted to Resource Conservation Branch no later than three (3) weeks prior to project advertisement. The Office of Highway Drainage Design within Headquarters Division of Design should also review all work plans involving drainage features. Furthermore, Office Engineer requires approval from the Office of Highway Drainage Design for all non-standard drainage features.

If a proprietary item is involved, approval must be obtained from the District Director or Deputy Director for Project Development. Copy of the approval letters should be sent to Resource Conservation Branch. See HDM Index 601.5(3) or Caltrans RTL Guide, for procedures for obtaining approval of proprietary items.

This page last updated August 20, 2011