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Second Appeal Analysis
PA ID# 007-UDL4O-00; Appanoose County Secondary Roads
PW ID# 232, 234, 235, 243, 389, 391, 392, 393, and 407; Road Repair
As a result of severe flooding associated with FEMA-1930-DR-IA, the Appanoose County's Secondary Road Department (Applicant) sustained damage to numerous gravel roadways within its jurisdiction. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) worked with the Applicant to determine the eligible scopes of work. In developing the estimated quantities of aggregate and associated costs, the Applicant used a 1.89 tons per cubic yard (tcy) conversion factor derived from the Iowa Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) Design Manual’s guidelines for estimating quantities of granular materials. The Design Manual identifies 140 pounds per cubic foot (pcf) as the density for Class ‘A’ Crushed Stone.
In response to an inquiry by FEMA, the manager at L&W Quarries Inc., a quarry that supplies the Applicant’s gravel, stated that 1.4 tcy was an appropriate conversion factor for dry aggregate. Furthermore, in reviewing the PWs, FEMA found that a random sample of load tickets showed the Applicant hauled 1¨û inch road rock and not Class ‘A’ - ¾ inch aggregate base. FEMA’s reviewers adjusted the nine PWs’ cost estimates using a 1.4 tcy conversion factor based on a standard gravel density of 104 pcf.
With letters dated January 25, February 7, and February 8, 2011, the Applicant submitted its first appeals to the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division (Grantee). The Applicant asserted that 104 pcf represents the density of gravel in a recently loaded truck; whereas, the gravel on the Applicant’s damaged roads was compacted over time by traffic. In addressing the grain diameter of the aggregate used in the repair projects, the Applicant clarified that the IDOT’s Design Manual also listed 140 pcf as the density of modified sub-base, which is similar to 1¨û inch road rock. The crux of the Applicant’s argument was that by using a lower density of 104 pcf to calculate the approved costs, FEMA has, in effect, reimbursed the costs of replacing slightly less than ¾ of the quantity of gravel the Applicant claims existed prior to the flooding of the 775 damaged sites. Therefore, FEMA was not returning the roads to pre-disaster design in accordance with Disaster Assistance Policy DAP 9527.4 Construction Codes and Standards, and Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §206.226 (d) Standards. The Grantee forwarded the Applicant’s first appeals to FEMA with six letters dated February 24, 2011, and three dated March 1, 2011, but did not support the Applicant’s appeals.
On March 30, 2011, FEMA denied the Applicant’s first appeals on the grounds that 1.4 tcy is typically used for calculating gravel quantities in Iowa. The Regional Administrator referred to the densities listed in the Pocket Reference - 1st edition, by Thomas Glover, which is the recognized reference throughout Iowa and FEMA Region VII, and noted that the L&W Quarries Inc. manager quoted 1.4 tcy as the appropriate conversion factor for gravel. As the design of the roadway consisted of loose gravel compacted by traffic, the reimbursement of loose gravel with the nine PWs was consistent with 44 CFR §206.201(j), which defines permanent work as restorative work that must be performed through repairs or replacement, to restore an eligible facility on the basis of its pre-disaster design and current applicable standards. The Regional Administrator concluded that the Pocket Reference’s conversion factor of 1.4 tcy for gravel was appropriate in order to restore the Applicant’s roads to pre-disaster design.
The Applicant submitted nine second appeals to the Grantee on April 19, 2011. In the appeals, the Applicant reiterated the argument that using an uncompacted gravel density is insufficient to replace the volume of compacted gravel on the Applicant’s damaged roads. The Applicant disputed the applicability of the gravel density in the Pocket Reference by quoting the preface, which states that, “this book should only be considered as a general guide and … does not represent the information as being exact.” Included with the second appeals was a March 21, 2011, letter to the Applicant from the L&W Quarries Inc. manager, in which he stated that tests conducted by IDOT found the quarry’s Class A material to have an uncompacted, dry density of 112 pcf. The L&W Quarries Inc. manager estimated that a conversion factor for compacted gravel could be 1.89 tcy or higher. The Grantee forwarded the Applicant’s second appeals to FEMA with letters dated June 23, 2011. The Grantee recognized 1.4 tcy as the appropriate and applicable conversion factor for loose gravel and stressed that the accepted method of gravel road repair in Iowa involves spreading loose aggregate on the surface of the road through grading or tailgate delivery.
The introduction to the IDOT Design Manual explains that, “The intent of this manual is to provide design guidance to designers to assist with projects involving the Primary highway and Interstate systems.” Given that the guidelines are intended for the design of paved road systems, the 140 pcf density refers to substantially compacted aggregates. For comparison, Table 5-17 of the Geotechnical Aspects of Pavements Reference Manual, published by the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, shows that a standard Proctor test of well graded gravel, USCS soil classification GW, yields a maximum dry density range of 125 to 134 pcf. Therefore, the cited densities of 140 pcf in the IDOT Design Manual would be expected of aggregates mechanically compressed by vibratory roller or other appropriate compacting equipment.
In developing eligible cost estimates, FEMA considers costs that are reasonable and necessary to accomplish the eligible scope of work. For types of work that are routinely accomplished by the Applicant, normal procedures followed in performing non-disaster work should not be altered because of the potential for reimbursement through Federal disaster assistance grants.
For the PWs addressed in the Applicant’s nine appeals, the eligible scopes of work entail spreading uncompacted aggregate loosely on the roads’ surfaces. This manner of repair is consistent with the Applicant’s usual method of gravel replacement on secondary roads and according to the Grantee is the standard approach in Iowa. It is important to note that the Applicant does not claim that the facilities were constructed in accordance with the IDOT Design Manual’s specifications. Nor has it provided documentation to show that compactors were required by the design or necessary for the repair of the secondary roads. Rather, the Applicant simply asserts that the gravel roadways were compacted to a density of 140 pcf over time by traffic. While traffic can be expected to result in localized increases in density, it can also reduce gravel density by spreading loose gravel along and off of the road’s surface. Nevertheless, it is unlikely to result in uniformly compacted aggregate as could be accomplished through proper use of a vibratory compactor.
Throughout the State of Iowa, the accepted method of gravel replacement is reclaiming or spreading new aggregate loosely on top of the road bed which is done by grading or tailgate delivery. This is a practice that is followed by the Applicant and has not been refuted by the Applicant. As the scopes of eligible work to repair the damaged roads involve depositing uncompacted gravel loosely on the road bed through grading or tailgate delivery, the appropriate and applicable conversion factor is 1.4 tcy.