FAQ's

What is the benefit of using APEL?

This program offers a substantial cost benefit to member departments, as well as to manufacturers of patented and proprietary transportation products, by allowing manufactures to submit products online for evaluation through APEL. This prevents duplication of effort for all parties involved, as well as providing a central repository from which all state agencies may access evaluation results.

Additionally for the member departments, the program allows agencies to customize and automate the work flow process for new product evaluations. Utilizing the online review of product submittals permits states to streamline the new product evaluation process, increasing efficiency, lowering evaluation costs through shared information, and potentially speeding the delivery of products for use in projects.

What is the APEL Management System?

The APEL management system is the web database/central repository for evaluation reports from the testing of innovative patented and/or proprietary engineered transportation products, conducted either through APEL or by state departments of transportation. Additionally, it contains state certifications and approved product lists for innovative patented and/or proprietary products.

It also serves as the online portal for manufacturers to submit applications for product evaluations.

How are products submitted for evaluation?

Through the APEL Management System – AASHTO Evaluated Products (No user profile or log in credentials are required). Products must be market ready; this program is not for research and development. Manufacturers must sign off on the APEL Terms and Conditions agreement in order to proceed.

How are products reviewed/approved for evaluation?

All products submitted for evaluation through APEL are reviewed by the APEL Council (see “What is the APEL Council” below). Applications and all supporting information are reviewed by the Council, which convenes a monthly conference call to determine whether products are applicable for evaluation through the program. The criteria for approval is based on areas of importance to states, including but not limited to quality, practicality, cost effectiveness, environmental impact, sustainability, and feasibility. If approved, the manufacturer must submit a non-refundable $2500 application fee for development of a scope of work.

What happens if a product is approved for evaluation (What is the process)?

Once a scope of work is developed and finalized, it is forwarded to an AASHTO approved third party laboratory. The lab provides a detailed cost proposal for the evaluation, which includes delivery of a final report; per the terms and conditions all test data and reports are property of AASHTO. Once the manufacturer accepts and remits payment, the evaluation is completed by the laboratory, with the APEL Council reviewing testing results prior to issuing a final report. The manufacturer may review the report and has an allotted timeframe to make a final determination on whether the report is to be posted to the APEL site or withdrawn.

What happens if a manufacturer chooses to withdraw a report?

Should a report be withdrawn, the site will reflect this course of action taken by the manufacturer. As all reports are AASHTO property, state members who wish to view a withdrawn report may submit a request for AASHTO to provide a copy.

Does the APEL Council review evaluations or certifications submitted by States?

No. The APEL Council only reviews product submittals for evaluation through this program. Reports and other information posted by state members does not need to be reviewed or approved by the Council.

What is the APEL Council?

The APEL Council is a panel of state DOT product evaluation coordinators charged with program development and guidance. The Council also oversees all product reviews, from initial review of submittals through vetting of the final report. The composition of the Council is as follows:

  • APEL Chair: should be a state materials engineer in order to link the group to the committee on materials.
  • Regional Product Coordinators: minimum of one from each of the four AASHTO regions.
  • APEL Coordinator: AASHTO staff member assigned to manage the program.
May I contact the APEL Council or the laboratory directly?

No, all communication should be directed through the AASHTO Coordinator in order to follow due process. In certain situations the AASHTO Coordinator may grant access for direct contact, but approval must be granted by AASHTO.

Do I need to log in to view reports or certificates?

No. All information, other than product submittals, is public facing.

The only users with log in credentials are the AASHTO Coordinator and APEL Council for reviewing product submittals.

What is a patented or proprietary product”?

Per the definition provided by FHWA:

Patented or Proprietary Product: A product, specification, or process identified in the plans or specifications as a "brand" or trade name (e.g. 3M, Corten). However, it may also be a product so narrowly specified that only a single provider can meet the specification. A proprietary product must meet one of the conditions listed under 23 CFR 635.411(a) or (c) for Federal funds to participate in its use on a Federal-aid highway construction project. See Question and Answer #B1. For purposes of this guidance, any reference to "proprietary product shall mean "patented or proprietary product.

For more information, please refer to the definitions section of the FHWA’s Questions and Answers Regarding Title 23 CFR 635.411.

What products are not applicable to APEL?

APEL evaluations are not intended for materials or products whose basic properties are under research, not ready to implement in the field, or where specifications or evaluation program(s) already exist among the AASHTO members or other sources.