A 102-year-old federal procurement rule is stifling the use of products by state and local governments that could make U.S. roads safer, and it’s time for it to be repealed, says the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).

ARTBA filed a petition March 27 with the U.S. Department of Transportation to throw out the procurement rule, which was adopted in 1916 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The legal team filing the petition for ARTBA is led by former U.S. Secretary of Transportation James Burnley with Washington, D.C., law firm Venable, LLP.

The rule essentially prohibits the use of patented or proprietary products on state and local highway and bridge projects that receive federal funding, partly because it requires competitive bidding, even if it is the only such product of its kind, according to ARTBA’s petition. The rule only makes exceptions in limited cases.

This regulation is a relic of antiquated early 20th century thinking,” says ARTBA President Pete Ruane. “It is out of step with the Federal Highway Administration’s support for the development and procurement of the best products on the market. Repealing it would spur the use of new technology and materials that help save lives and upgrade the quality of our highways and bridges.”