Mandating the metric system

06 Jan

Therefore, converting the highway industry to the SI system will enable its many consultants, contractors, materials suppliers, and equipment manufacturers to compete more readily in the global marketplace.The legislative mandate was reinforced by Executive Order 12770, signed by George Bush in July 1991, which required agencies to develop a conversion plan and timetable.As the volume of metric construction increases within each state and nationwide, these problems should diminish.The second commonly perceived problem area is the lack of a conversion mandate beyond the federal government.Because highway construction methods remain the same, most of the construction problems being encountered are related to materials.These problems are not major obstacles, and they are being addressed on a case-by-case basis.Federal agencies have differed in their interpretation of the conversion requirements, resulting in an inconsistent approach to conversion by federal agencies in their operations and their requirements.

In 1997, FHWA recognized 42 state DOTs that "substantially completed" their conversion process.

Many local agencies rely on the state DOT's standard plans and specifications in developing their own projects.

These agencies will be forced to either use metric units, develop their own design aids, or use outdated standards when the state stops maintaining inch-pound standard plans and specifications.

Data collected by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) indicates that just under 65 percent of the 1998 construction dollars will be let for projects using the International System of Measurements (SI).

Also, current estimates by the state departments of transportation (DOT) indicate that metric units will be used in projects representing 85 percent of the entire 1999 state-administered highway construction program. highway industry has come about primarily as a result of the 1988 Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act.