U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Randall R. Park, P.E.
by Randall R. Park, P.E. on September 15, 2011
Director of Project Development
Utah Department of Transportation
The Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) delivery method has proven to be an effective option for Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) projects during the last six-years. The benefits of CM/GC on our roadway construction projects has been higher design quality, applied innovations, optimized schedules, and greater protection of the UDOT's investment. The design plans and specifications are much better since they are reviewed for cost and constructability with more scrutiny than most other delivery methods can allow. CM/GC provides a good environment to apply new innovations that meet individual project goals. It also produces an optimized schedule by giving the contractor the time and opportunity to address the unique requirements of each project. UDOT's investment is better protected in CM/GC since we have more control over the way a project's opportunities and risks are addressed and are able to retain the knowledge gained for future projects.
The CM/GC process also produces designs that are better able to avoid issues in construction thereby reducing change orders. Design solutions are not only presented by the designer but also evaluated by the contractor. This contractor review helps reduce errors in design and ensures unabated construction during installation. If information is found lacking the designer can utilize the contractor to minimize the risks of assumptions and leverage their knowledge prior to their application in the field.
CM/GC has provided UDOT with the tools necessary to evaluate alternatives with the contractor and the designer and identify focus areas where more detailed investigations are required. In many cases the contractor can perform necessary investigations at our request to verify that a proposed alternative can be built prior to further design development.
Value Engineering is a natural part of CM/GC during the design process. While there are multiple ways of building a project, the budget ultimately determines which design alternatives are most appropriate. With traditional delivery methods the design is developed according to the designer's assumptions and it left up to the bidders to determine the best means of completing the project under the given assumptions. CM/GC allows for the contractor's input during design so we can obtain reliable cost data for any design alternative being considered. This lets us consider the budget and make better informed decisions about which alternatives offer the greatest cost-benefit.
CM/GC has shown a consistent ability to shorten overall project schedules. Although some of the time savings is the result of CM/GC's ability to get the project into construction more quickly than traditional projects, the majority of the time savings occur during construction. These time savings occur because CM/GC allows us to prepare for construction by performing early investigations, procuring long-lead-items, and starting work the project team deems necessary. CM/GC also allows the contractor the opportunity to identify in advance key personnel and infrastructure required once construction begins.
Unlike most other delivery methods, CM/GC allows the contractor to begin tailoring the construction schedule during the design phase while the project's needs are being developed. During design the team recognizes how work will impact the public and is able to adjust the construction sequence to minimize any impacts. Adjustments including special considerations for local government needs, minimizing traffic impacts at specialized locations, and incorporating more public involvement can be achieved. CM/GC also enables the team to determine the Right-of-Way (ROW) issues on the critical path during design and give focus to those acquisitions that affect the overall schedule.
UDOT has seen the benefits of CM/GC which has resulted in project cost savings, higher quality designs, greater innovations, and more efficient construction schedules. CM/GC has allowed UDOT to be placed in a better position to direct project teams that best serve the public interest as we manage Federal-aid highway construction projects.
EDC Question: There are often barriers to the use of CM/GC on transportation projects. What was your experience and how did you overcome these barriers, if any?