In recent years UDOT has been able to implement innovative bridge building techniques but do you know what the impetus for this was? It started with innovative contracting. By utilizing these types of contracts we are able to involve the construction industry earlier for more efficient delivery of our projects.
The Colorado River Bridge project was completed using DBB. A specialty designer was hired and then also contracted to assist with inspection during construction.
We use three basic contract types: design-bid-build (DBB), design-build (DB) and construction manager/general contractor (CMGC). Each has its own benefits and risks and UDOT project managers, in coordination with UDOT senior leaders, determine early on what type of contract will meet the needs of their project and ultimately provide the best product (aka road, bridge, etc.).
DBB is our traditional method of contracting and is the most familiar to everyone. With these contracts a designer completes their part of the process before a construction contractor is involved. Basically, the name explains it all: first the design is completed, then it is put out for bid and finally a contractor is selected to build the project. The majority of our projects use this type of contract.
It was determined that we could get a better price using DB on the Geneva Road project by allowing the contractor to propose the most efficient design while maximizing the available funding.
DB came about as a result of the 2002 Winter Olympics. The executive director at the time was Tom Warne and I-15 needed to be improved through Salt Lake County to meet the increased demands the Olympics would put on the highway. To meet the tight timeline Mr. Warne worked with legislators to allow UDOT to use a new method of contracting, design-build.
DB contracts allow for the design and construction to be completed under one contract. The contractor actually manages the design and construction, and is involved from the beginning. This means the company that will be building the project is part of the discussion as elements of the project are designed. Because of this early contractor involvement, the time frame for a project is greatly reduced. Contractor involvement is also what has brought about innovations such as bridge moves; who better to bring new ideas to the table than the one who will be putting them into practice.
A landslide took out S.R. 14 and made it impassable. In order to have the most innovative design, and to get construction started right away, CMGC was selected. This also allowed us to develop a design utilizing equipment the contractor proposed.
Construction Manager/General Contractor
CMGC is somewhat similar to DB in that it also shortens the timeline between design and construction and allows for innovation since the contractor is involved from the beginning. The difference is that the contractor is involved during the design process as part of a team managed by UDOT, working alongside a design consultant. Another difference is that while the contractor may continue on past design into construction, if they meet all of the requirements, we also reserve the right to sever the contract once the design is complete making it a design-bid-build.
CMGC allows us to use some of the positive elements from both DBB and DB. The idea for this came from the building industry and we saw it used on a transportation project by the city of Phoenix, Arizona in 2004. Following the success of DB we wanted to include another innovative contracting method.
In the end our goal is to provide our project managers with options so that they can build the best project possible. These innovative contracting methods allow them to select a delivery process that keeps low bid in the forefront, but that also allows for new ideas and practices to emerge.
Note from author: Special thanks to Michelle Page, Project Controls and Innovative Contracting Engineer, and Michael Butler, Contract Administrator, for their help with this post.