Synthesis of Available Contracting Methods

Link to Latest Report: September 2019 Progress Report

Background:

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.  While the traditional contracting method for state DOTs is primarily unit price contracting, there are alternatives, including cost plus, lump sum, lump sum with guaranteed maximum price, and progressive lump sum with a guaranteed maximum price.  To date there has been little investigation into the use of these alternatives on ABC projects, this project will explore the use of these options to understand the state of practice and provide insights and lessons learned for DOTs.

 Objective:

The proposed research will consist of a thorough exploration of current contracting provisions for ABC projects.  This will be accomplished through surveys, interviews, content analysis, documentation and observations.

 Scope:

Task 1 –   Literature Review

To prepare the current proposal, the research team has conducted a preliminary review of relevant studies and projects completed to date. 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.

Task 2 – Information Collection

While Task 1 focused upon extracting relevant material from documented sources, Task 2 will focus upon 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 contracting information. This project information will also document delivery and procurement methods. The research team understands the importance of both the quantity and quality of data that is obtained, as the project success depends upon this information. 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, including unit price, lump sum, and guaranteed maximum price, for different items for ABC projects. The evaluation of these methods will include common project size (cost), project types (scope), project delivery method, characteristics in schedule, constraints and any special requirements. To encourage the use of ABC, emphasis will also be given on any correlation between closure periods and bid prices associated with the identified contracting methods.

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. This document will include the identified best practices, case studies, and other key project findings.

Research Team:

Principal Investigator:  Dr. Jennifer S. Shane

Co-Principal Investigator: Katelyn Freeseman

Research Assistant:  Michael Volk

Previous Progress Reports: