Kirk Steudle, P.E.
by Kirk Steudle, P.E. on March 19, 2012
President — AASHTO
State Transportation Director
Michigan Department of Transportation
As transportation leaders, it is our duty to advance projects while considering the needs of the communities we serve, the impacts to the motoring public, and appropriate use of public funds. Our Governor in Michigan emphasizes the need to rethink everything and reinvent the State through innovation and by working smarter and more efficiently. At the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), we have long embraced those challenges and continue to explore new ways of doing business that provide continuing benefit to our customers while maximizing resources. The Federal Highway Administration’s Every Day Counts initiative encourages the use of alternate processes and methods that will help State departments of transportation accomplish their goals better, faster, safer, smarter, and cheaper.
The transportation industry faces many challenges while maintaining and improving our aging infrastructure. Inadequate funding levels and pressure to reduce delay and congestion are common across the country. Every Day Counts promotes solutions to these concerns by accelerating technology and innovation deployment and shortening project delivery timeframes. These initiatives are helping transform our industry to one that embraces creativity.
It is imperative that we learn to match the needs of each project with the known benefits of proven innovative techniques and leverage innovation to keep pace with the needs of the system we are dedicated to maintain. The Every Day Counts initiative does not mandate the use of any particular methodology, but it does provide a forum for demonstrating how efficiencies in all phases of a project can be implemented to expedite project delivery and produce more cost effective projects. It encourages a culture of innovation that is supported by transportation leaders in the State and Federal Government.
The MDOT used tools highlighted in Every Day Counts to deliver a relatively small, but still quite challenging, slope stability project on M-222, the primary east-west route through a rural county seat. The integration of design and construction was needed to expedite delivery of a project facing limited site access through environmentally sensitive areas, as well as traffic safety and mobility concerns.
MDOT engineers turned to the Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) contracting method, which allowed the department to create a team of design engineers and experienced contractors to be collaborate on the project during development and through construction. MDOT, the designer, and CM/GC worked together to quickly develop an efficient plan that would resolve site access issues and mitigate other concerns. By integrating the design and construction activities, the project work was successfully completed and M-222 traffic was rapidly restored. MDOT would not have been able to advance the procurement of materials, accelerate the design, agree on a price and open the roadway in an expedited timeframe without using this innovative approach.
Based on the success and lessons learned from the M-222 project, MDOT is moving forward with two additional CM/GC projects in 2012. This contracting method will be employed to rehabilitate a complex precast segmental bridge on I-75 over the Saginaw River, and for construction on a unique project that includes a pavilion, a universally accessible water feature/playscape, tensile structures, and a non-motorized path.
The projects are vastly different in scope and size, but have unique risks that require collaboration between MDOT, our design team, and expertise from experience contractors.