Contracting Methods for Accelerated Bridge Construction Projects: Case Studies and Consensus Building

Background:

June 2019 Progress Report

Accelerated bridge construction (ABC) is the solution of choice to upgrade substandard bridges, while maintaining traffic flow and optimizing safety through work zones. However, the perception of higher construction costs for ABC versus conventional construction continues in spite of numerous ABC projects having lower construction costs relative to conventional construction. This inaccurate perception and the fear of cost overruns are causing some bridge owners to be hesitant about using ABC technologies, especially those technologies related to bridge system moves which can provide the greatest benefit for safety and traffic flow impacts.

Whether to use ABC for a specific project needs to be decided at the project development stage. Research is needed to assist state DOTs in identifying contracting methods which have been utilized for ABC projects in the past, including lateral slides, longitudinal launches, and self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT) moves. Moreover, identifying successful contracting methods used for previously completed ABC projects will further encourage agencies to consider implementing accelerated construction practices for future project needs. This project will focus upon consensus building of contracting methods for ABC projects, as well as exploring potential advantageous alternatives when possible.

Objective:

The proposed research project will consist of a thorough exploration of current contracting methods for ABC projects. This will be accomplished via surveys, case studies, content analysis, interviews, documentation and observations, as outlined in the following sections. It is anticipated that this effort will coincide with a separate research project from the research team regarding bid items and the bidding process for ABC projects.

Scope:

The following tasks will be performed to achieve the project objective:

  • Task 1 – Literature Review
    • For Task 1 of this project, the research team will compile all related information available in journals, conference proceedings, and technical reports in a concise and comprehensive summary. The main objective of this task is to obtain an exhaustive understanding of current contracting methods used for accelerated construction, with an emphasis on key project characteristics which affect their applicability.
  • Task 2 – Information Collection
    • Task 2 will involve survey responses and interviews to collect pertinent information from state and local governments, as well as consultants/contractors when possible and beneficial, with respect to ABC project information. This project information will include bidding and contracting methods, as well as closure time determination processes. The results of this information collection will also be incorporated into project-specific case studies.
  • Task 3 – Exploration of Contracting Methods
    • This task will use information collected from Tasks 1 and 2 for the comparison of contracting methods for ABC projects. It is anticipated that methods to be addressed will include Design-Bid-Build (DBB), Design-Build (DB), and Construction Manager General Contractor (CMGC) project delivery methods. The evaluation of these methods will include common project size (cost), project types (scope), characteristics in schedule, constraints and any special requirements.
  • Task 4 – Summary of Successful Practices
    • The efforts associated with Tasks 1 through 3 will be summarized to highlight those methods deemed most successful in past ABC projects. This task will also serve as guidelines for agencies who have not yet implemented ABC projects, encouraging agencies to implement best practices for future applications.
  • Task 5 – Final Report
    • The project findings from the previously identified tasks will be prepared by means of a final report.

Research Team:

Principal Investigator:  Dr. Katelyn Freeseman

Research Assistant:  Dr. Jennifer Shane