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Arrow Oregon Demonstration Project: Alternate Project Delivery And Accelerated Bridge Construction On OR 38, Drain To Elkton

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Project Overview and Lessons Learned

Project Overview

The Oregon HfL project consisted of removing and replacing five bridges on an 11-mi stretch of OR 38 between the towns of Drain and Elkton. These bridges, built in the late 1920s and early 1930s, were near the end of their useful life and required immediate attention. They were selected for replacement under the Oregon Transportation Investment Act State Bridge Program for a variety of reasons, including (1) structural and functional deficiencies resulting in repair costs that exceeded one-half of the replacement cost, (2) substandard bridge width, and (3) load ratings insufficient to carry permit vehicle loads.

After exploring many alternatives and evaluating the project and user costs, ODOT selected the use of the design-build (D-B) method of project delivery in concert with incentive and disincentive clauses that included innovative staged construction and accelerated bridge removal and replacement techniques. Removal and replacement of the bridges on OR 38 was a great success, and ODOT was able to complete the project more than a year ahead of schedule.

Strategies that helped ODOT achieve its goal included the following:

  • Use of the D-B method of project delivery, which combined the design and construction phases of the project into a single contract and allowed for overlapping of some design and construction. This dramatically reduced the time required to complete the project.
  • Offsite construction of the entire superstructure of two bridges (crossings 3 and 4) on temporary supports, which included girders, decks, curb, gutter, and side railings. The total lengths of these structures were 340 feet (ft) for crossing 3 and 240 ft for crossing 4.
  • Construction of substructures beneath crossings 3 and 4 and outside the bounds of OR 38 with little or no disruption of OR 38 traffic.
  • Dramatically minimizing traffic disruption and maintaining normal traffic flow without altering the present roadway configuration through the use of an innovative, emerging technology: the hydraulic sliding system (HSS). HSS made it possible to remove the old crossings 3 and 4 and replace them during two weekend closures, reducing user costs, improving motorist and worker safety, and increasing user satisfaction.
  • Implementation of an innovative public information and outreach program that went beyond conventional public meetings.
  • Implementation of a context-sensitive and sustainable solutions (CS3) approach that minimized environmental impacts and put communities and stakeholders at the heart of decision-making.

Data Collection

Safety, construction congestion, quality, and user satisfaction data were collected before, during, and after construction to demonstrate that the D-B method of project delivery coupled with innovative accelerated bridge construction (ABC) technologies can be used to achieve the HfL performance goals in these areas.

For ODOT, safety of the workers and the traveling public was more than a performance goal; it was a requirement under the Oregon Transportation Investment Act program. During the construction of the bridges on OR 38, few worker injuries were reported and these injuries were minor in nature. All site personnel, field crews, designers, inspectors, and owner's representatives received site-specific orientation and safety training before working on this project. In addition, all construction workers received quarterly safety training and attended mandatory weekly safety meetings.

During construction, the contractors took extraordinary steps to assure that incidents were kept to a minimum. The many safeguards put in place to prevent crashes during construction were effective. These included procurement of Oregon State Police during major traffic changes and peak construction periods. Other effective measures included scheduled open houses, regular news releases, and establishment of a dedicated phone line and Web site. A review of the individual crashes showed that only three occurred in the vicinity of the project's bridge sites. However, as reported by ODOT, none of the crashes was attributed to the construction activities.

The performance goal established by ODOT on motorist delay was that no vehicle should be delayed by contractor operations more than 20 minutes beyond its normal travel time. The contractor easily met this goal. Based on a travel time study conducted by HfL consultants, a delay of 5 to 9 minutes was computed for each vehicle during daytime hours. For the most part, the approach adopted was to maintain two lanes of uninterrupted traffic throughout the construction period, except for 6 weeks on crossing 5, which required the use of a temporary bridge, and two separate weekend closures for removal and replacement of crossings 3 and 4. The primary focus of the Oregon HfL project was crossings 3, 4, and 5 because of their exceptional complexity and innovative features. For the most part, crossings 1 and 2 were built using traditional methods of construction, so they are not addressed in great detail in this report.

Under conventional construction, the residents and the traveling public using OR 38 would have had to deal with delays, lane closures, and construction activities for well over 3 years. However, with the adoption of an alternate method of project delivery, rapid bridge removal and replacement techniques, and innovative staged construction, ODOT was able to complete the entire project in less than 18 months.

Although the quality of the replaced crossings on OR 38 potentially was improved because the work was done in a controlled environment and prefabricated bridge components were used, the replacement process had no impact on the noise and smoothness of the pavement surface.

Beginning at the project planning stages, ODOT undertook an aggressive and comprehensive effort to communicate with affected residents and businesses along the corridor and near the bridges, keeping them abreast of all activities before, during, and after construction. User satisfaction surveys designed and distributed to neighboring residents by Lois D. Cohen Associates clearly demonstrated a high level of public satisfaction with the construction approach and the final product. ODOT exceeded the HfL customer satisfaction expectation by a large margin.

Economic Analysis

The benefits and costs of the innovative features of the project were compared with projects of similar size and scope with a more traditional delivery approach. ODOT supplied all of the cost figures for the as-built project and the cost assumptions for the traditional approach.

Based on an economic analysis conducted by ODOT using the StartBENCOST analysis model approach, ODOT realized a total cost savings of about $2.4 million over conventional construction practices. These savings stemmed from reduced construction duration, mobilization costs, reduced delay cost, and the use of innovative bridge removal and replacement techniques. Overall, the savings to ODOT represent about 5 percent of the total project cost.

Lessons Learned

The removal and replacement of the five crossings on OR 38 was a great success, resulting in a quality project completed substantially ahead of schedule while maintaining freight mobility and reducing impact on motorists, residents, and businesses. Through this project, ODOT gained insight on proven innovative construction features and innovative public outreach practices and learned many valuable lessons that can be incorporated into similar future projects in Oregon. These lessons include the following:

  • Public involvement—A key contributor to the success of the OR 38 project was an unprecedented degree of public involvement at the community level. During the planning and construction phases of the project, ODOT proactively engaged in an outreach program that effectively kept residents, businesses, and commuters along the OR 38 corridor abreast of all construction activities. Long before any heavy equipment or construction crews arrived on the job site, ODOT and its public involvement teams researched how the project would affect the community. The research resulted in a list of community members, government representatives, and key stakeholders that ODOT kept informed throughout the project. The outreach program included a dedicated phone line, scheduled open houses, regular media communication, and implementation of ODOT's award-winning "Trip Check" Web site.
  • Alternate method of project delivery—Using a corridor-based approach, ODOT bundled (grouped) the design and construction of all five bridges into a single, seamless contract using the D-B method of project delivery. When a balance of time, quality, and price is desired, the D-B concept becomes more attractive than the traditional design-bid-build (D-B-B) method. By putting the D-B method of contracting to work, ODOT was able to transfer more responsibilities to the successful bidding firm for project quality, cost, and overall project management. As a result, ODOT was credited for accelerating project completion time, promoting innovation, maintaining mobility, and reducing user costs. By overlapping the design and construction and using innovative accelerated construction techniques, ODOT's design-builder was able to complete the project cost-effectively and more than a year ahead of schedule.
  • Hydraulic sliding system—Because of the extreme nature of the topography at the project site, all of the bridges on OR 38 presented challenges, but two bridges (crossings 3 and 4) stood out for their exceptionally difficult site conditions. For the first time in its history, ODOT used an innovative yet proven technology to overcome this challenge. ODOT's approach was to build the new bridge superstructures on temporary supports next to the old structure. During a short-term closure (weekend), ODOT demolished the old structure and slid the new structure onto the same alignment using HSS. Using HSS enabled ODOT to dramatically minimize traffic disruption over the structures and maintain normal traffic flow without altering the present roadway configuration. In addition, the use of HSS substantially improved the safety of the traveling public and workers in the work zone. Because of the success and cost-effectiveness of rapid bridge removal and replacement techniques on OR 38, ODOT plans to use HSS on future projects.
  • Streamlining the environmental permitting process—In addition to the use of the D-B approach, there was a significant focus on constructing the crossings using a process known as the context-sensitive and sustainable solutions (CS3) approach. On this project, the CS3 approach resulted in minimizing environmental impacts and development of a systematic permitting vehicle that streamlined the time-consuming environmental permitting process. According to ODOT, "through this process, we have been able to maintain our environmental stewardship while improving the program delivery process and outcomes."
  • Incentive and disincentive clauses—ODOT learned that by incorporating incentive and disincentive clauses into its D-B contract it could accelerate the completion of three of the crossings. These include combined incentive/disincentive clauses of $20,000 for each day not exceeding 30 days for crossings 3 and 4 (maximum of $600,000) and $4,500 for each day not exceeding 30 days for crossing 5 (maximum of $135,000). The contractor used a temporary bridge and an innovative staged construction technique to complete the reconstruction of crossing 5 in less than 6 weeks instead of the originally scheduled 6 months. It also completed removal and replacement of crossings 3 and 4 in two separate weekends using HSS, reducing traffic exposure to construction activities from more than a year to 4 days. The contractor was awarded maximum incentives of $735,000 for crossings 3, 4 and 5.


From the standpoint of construction speed, user and agency costs, quality, worker and motorist safety, and community satisfaction, ODOT's project was a great success and unequivocally exemplified the principles of the HfL program. ODOT learned that using the D-B method of project delivery coupled with proven innovative technologies and incentive/disincentive clauses could accelerate construction, lessen the impact on the traveling public and environment, maintain mobility, and improve worker and motorist safety. A postconstruction stakeholder survey conducted by ODOT clearly demonstrated the satisfaction of local residents and businesses with the construction approach and final product.

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Mary Huie
Center for Accelerating Innovation

Updated: 04/04/2011

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration