Minnesota’s city, county, state and consulting civil engineers are currently free to determine which type of culvert and storm sewer material is suitable for their projects. It’s a civil engineer’s professional right and duty to select concrete, plastic or metal

pipe – possibly at the exclusion of the others — based on sound engineering principles, judgement, their own experiences as civil engineers, and economics.

This right was further emphasized on July 6, 2012 when the FHWA’s new MAP-21 highway reauthorization included the following:

“Section 1525 – STATE AUTONOMY FOR CULVERT PIPE SELECTION.” Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall modify section 635.411 of title 23, Code of Feral Regulations (as in effect on the date of enactment of this Act), to ensure that States shall have the autonomy to determine culvert and storm sewer material types to be included in the construction of a project on a Federal-aid highway.”

Additionally, on city and county state-aid projects, the Minnesota Department of Transportation allows city, county and consulting engineers to determine the most appropriate pipe material for their projects. However, this right to engineering autonomy is being threatened around the U.S. at the state and local level, and the threat could reach Minnesota.

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09Nov 2015

This is a demonstration of the comparative flammability of polypropylene pipe (PP), reinforced concrete pipe (RCP), and high density polyethylene pipe (HDPE). Dry hay is ignited in three 18 in. by 18 in. pipes and allowed to burn. This is an unedited test conducted on October 21, 2015.