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Design-build method for municipal infrastructure? Olsson can help

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Suzanne Small, Marketing

Municipalities are often looking for ways to further stretch their dollars on infrastructure projects. Design-build projects are not new, but this method of delivery has been traditionally considered for large projects and not for municipal transportation infrastructure work, such as roadway repaving, reconstruction, and other upgrades. Reconfiguring your design-bid-build to a design-build project can provide real advantages, such as a single contract and point of contact for both designing and constructing the project. In addition, the contract includes all services and products to be delivered by the team—creating closer coordination between the designer and the builder.

Another significant advantage is that costs can be determined at an earlier stage and with greater accuracy, allowing the owner to have a guaranteed maximum price for the finished project before the project even starts. Further, this type of project generally provides significant scheduling benefits. Below are descriptions of four recent design-build projects performed by Olsson.

Sheridan Drive Design-Build
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

Sheridan Drive at Fort LeavenworthOlsson and McAnany Construction, Inc. teamed to provide design-build services for reconstructing over two miles of Sheridan Drive. Sheridan Drive was deteriorating and needed to be rehabilitated. The Directorate of Public Works for Fort Leavenworth desired a prompt and cost-effective solution. Working together, Olsson and McAnany were able to perform a quick, value engineering analysis and generated ideas for the Fort that would reduce costs while maintaining Kansas Department of Transportation specifications and criteria. Andrew Meyerkord was the lead transportation engineer for design on this project and coordinated design ideas with the contractor. The end result was a roadway that met serviceability and design life requirements while minimizing the impact on the surrounding environment. Almost the entire, existing roadway was recycled in some form or another. Part of it was hauled to Fort Leavenworth’s levy and used as a new aggregate roadway, and the other part was reused in the new asphalt mix.

The project was split into three phases. Phase II and Phase III designs were completed while McAnany reconstructed Phase I. By allowing the contractor to get involved early in the project, the end result was a reduced project schedule. Construction was completed in the summer of 2012, and Fort Leavenworth officials were very happy with the results from the design-build team experience.

Brookview Gardens Neighborhood Improvements
Liberty, Missouri

The City of Liberty wanted to improve its Brookview Gardens subdivision. However, the city didn’t have the funds to fix everything on its “wish list,” which included rehabilitating and upgrading the road, replacing the waterline, and improving drainage. To maximize its available funds, the city selected a design-build method to tackle the multiple, needed improvements within the neighborhood. After conducting a qualifications-based selection, the city’s chosen contractor, Emery Sapp & Sons, Inc., along with Olsson, came together to evaluate the city’s needs. Olsson Transportation Engineer Andrew Meyerkord worked with other Olsson staff members to develop design options to present to the contractor. Together, the firms developed preliminary, cost-effective options that would maximize the improvements, stretch the city’s money as far as possible, and set the stage for future improvements. With this method, Liberty was also able to get early cost forecasts for both the design costs and the construction costs. Construction will start in the spring of 2013.

Santa Fe Streetscape
Olathe, Kansas

Santa Fe StreetscapeThe busy Santa Fe Street, stretching from Kansas City Road to the BNSF West tracks west of City Hall, was in less than desirable condition. The City of Olathe had an ultimate vision of a future Santa Fe Streetscape improvement project that included new pavement, curbs, and gutters; wider sidewalks, enhanced pedestrian crossings; and medians. Improvements would also include enhanced streetlights, new benches and bike racks, bike lockers, on-street planters, a bus shelter, and trash receptacles. However, the project would have to wait about three years before the city could afford to make improvements beyond a mill and overlay to the roadway. To speed up its desired schedule for completion, the city turned to a design-build-finance method that allowed city employees to accelerate the schedule and make all the improvements earlier than expected. The city has signed an agreement with O'Donnell and Sons Construction as the contractor to complete the Santa Fe Streetscape project and finance the project. Olsson was the selected engineering firm for the project. The project got underway in April 2012 and is tentatively scheduled to be completed by the spring of 2013.

151st & Black Bob Intersection Improvements
Olathe, Kansas

The City of Olathe was under an extremely tight timeframe for making intersection improvements at 151st Street and Black Bob Road and decided to use the design-build method to accelerate the schedule. As part of this project, the needs of a new grocery store opening in the fall of 2013 had to be balanced with the needs of nearby existing and future business owners' and citizens’ traffic demands and safety concerns. With Olsson as the designer and O’Donnell and Sons Construction as the contractor, the team addressed scheduling considerations up front, leading to more efficient implementation.

Additional time can be saved because design and construction activities can proceed concurrently. In addition, because team members are working side-by-side, the team can successfully complete the project in a timely manner through its ability to identify, modify, and implement needed changes along the way. The project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2013.

Design-build has proven to be a successful project delivery method for implementing municipal transportation projects. In our examples, accelerated project delivery, cost, or both were major factors in the decision to use design-build.

In deciding to take the design-build path, our teams have found one element to be vital to project success: communication. It is important to encourage partners to get together early in the process to discuss common objectives and establish procedures and schedules for formal communication. It’s imperative to foster an environment that encourages all team members to communicate freely, and to informally share ideas and work through challenges, keeping all team members in the communication loop.

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