The Programme of Building National Strength in Transportation, issued in September 2019 by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, outlined:
“A system of standards that is suitable for the high-quality development of transportation shall be established, and the effective supply of standards in key fields shall be strengthened. The technical standards and specifications for transportation infrastructure safety shall be improved.”
In order to meet these requirements, on May 27, 2020, the Ministry of Transport issued the Measures for the Administration of Highway Engineering Construction Standards. The Measures, whose implementation started on 1 July 2020, aim to (i) further promote the standardisation of highway engineering and construction; (ii) regulate the management of highway engineering standards; (iii) further safeguard public and property safety; and (iv) promote the technological development and innovation of highway engineering.
The Measures represent the general provisions on the management of highway construction standards. They optimise and enrich the framework of management rules and regulations on construction standards, and will mostly tackle existing problems in a wide range of areas, including: division of responsibility among management departments; procedures for standards development; management of mandatory standards; and information disclosure. Specifically:
- Clarification of management responsibilities, standardisation of work procedures
The Measures clarify the management responsibilities of competent transport departments at all levels:
- The Ministry of Transport shall be in charge of the standards of highway engineering and construction;
- Transport departments of local administrations at or above the county level shall be in charge of the standards of highway engineering and construction within their jurisdictions.
The Measures also standardise the procedures for the development of highway engineering and construction standards, namely: (i) draft of an outline of the standard; (ii) publication of a call for comments; (iii) development of the draft for examination; and (iv) finalisation of the draft for approval. The review of the outline and of the draft for examination shall be organised by the administrative departments of highway engineering and construction standards, while the specific review shall be undertaken by the expert group or the technical committee.
- Improvement of the standards system, clarification of the scope of the standards
The Measures clearly define the scope of application of all kinds of highway engineering standards. They also clarify the development and management of mandatory standards, in addition to optimising the system of voluntary standards and encouraging the development of local standards, association standards and enterprise standards.
Specifically, the Measures stipulate that mandatory standards for highway construction include:
- Technical requirements related to engineering quality and safety, people and property safety, environmental and ecological safety, and sustainable development;
- Unified technical indicators such as material performance and structural geometry size;
- Technical standards for key testing, inspection, assessment and information procedures;
- Unified technical standards for ensuring the safe operations of highways;
- Other highway construction standards that the highway industry needs to manage.
Standards other than mandatory standards are voluntary standards.
- Strengthening the management of standards, improvement of service quality
As for the key technologies involved, the Measures suggest that special studies, tests and verification should be carried out according to the actual needs and situation. At the same time, they also encourage the adoption of scientific and technological innovations such as new technologies, new processes, new materials and new equipment, particularly to promote the application of big data, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence in smart roads – provided that these technologies are in line with current national and sector mandatory standards.
In order to increase divulgation among technical and management personnel, the Measures stipulate that mandatory standards are made public free of charge, while voluntary standards, association standards and enterprise standards should increase their public availability and accessibility. Furthermore, for each new standard released, relevant briefing and training sessions should be organised by the standardisation management organisation, the drafting organisation and the standardisation association to promote effective implementation.
Finally, the Measures also encourage relevant organisations and individuals to actively participate in the development of international standards, in the mutual recognition of standards, in the conversion and application of Chinese and foreign standards, and in the organisations of international cooperation activities and exchanges on standards.
- Improvement of supervision mechanisms, focus on standards quality
The Measures stipulate the requirements and responsibility for the implementation and supervision of standards for highway engineering and construction. Specifically:
- Mandatory standards will be strictly implemented, while the adoption of voluntary standards will be strongly encouraged;
- Transport departments of local administrations at or above the county level shall supervise and inspect the implementation of the standards within their jurisdictions, and any violation must be dealt in accordance to the law;
- A social supervision mechanism is also established: any organisation and individual will have the right to report or file complaints on the violation of mandatory standards to the competent transport and standardisation authorities; specific reporting processes should be made public.
Finally, the Measures highlight the need and importance of constantly improving the quality of standards through a mechanism of feedback and review. Opinions and problems encountered during the implementation of standards can be submitted by relevant organisations and individuals, while a comprehensive review (not exceeding a period of five years) of the applicability of standards should be conducted after their implementation based on factors such as technical progress and actual demand.
The full text in Chinese of the Measures is available on the website of the Ministry of Transport: Measures for the Administration of Highway Engineering Construction Standards.
By Haley WU on July 17, 2020