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Texas DOT's Cost Control Task Force Recommendations
Highway Construction and Maintenance Cost Control Ideas

Maintenance (Pavements)
IdeaPotential Cost SavingsBest ApplicationContractor's CommentsImplementation
1. For preventive maintenance, seal of rural roadways with less than 5000 ADT and strongly consider sealing roadways with over 5000 ADT. Savings would be the difference between seal coat and ACP unit prices per square yard. Seal coats placed on rural high volume roadways (in excess of 25000 ADT) has been shown to be successful.   Districts are to apply the proposal in their district and use engineering judgment to justify other treatments.
2. Don't seal shoulders every cycle. We currently maintain 446,898,768 SY of flexible pavement shoulders. Cost savings potential could be as high as $50,000,000 a year.     Recommended practice for districts.
3. Use spot levelup with seals. Assuming 10% of the lane miles overlaid were low volume, savings could be as high as $22,000,000 a year. Refer to Idea 1 above.   Administration has directed CST to eliminate patching from distress and condition calculations. Districts are encouraged to use strip and spot seals and levelups to the extent needed. (Current PMIS includes patching as a condition score reduction utility. Consideration was made for 1) leaving in patching as is and reporting to the districts PMIS distress and condition scores with and without patching; 2) reducing the effect of patching on scores; and 3) eliminating the patching utility curve.)
4. Spot and strip seal main lanes and shoulders. In FY 2006, we seal coated 22,217 LM where 781 LM of that was spot and strip. Assuming that if you use spot and strip seal (30 percent of the lane width) for 10 percent of the roads that you would normally seal full width, the potential savings could be as high as $17,500,000 a year. Refer to Idea 1 above.  
5. Use rut boxes and scratch microsurface passes to address rutting in the wheel path. In FY 2006, we overlaid 6304 lane miles. Assuming that we micro 10 percent of the lane miles normally overlaid and 30 percent of the Lane is in wheel paths, the potential savings is $12,000,000 a year. Pavements with no cracking, but with rutting up to 1" deep.   Recommended practice for districts.
6. Use fog seals on main lanes and shoulders. In FY 2006, we seal coated 22,217 lane miles and assuming that we fog sealed 5 percent of these SY in lieu of Seal coat, the potential savings is $12,000,000 a year. Good for low volume roads and for shoulders.   Recommended practice for districts.
7. Engineer the seal coat. Select the appropriate asphalt aggregate and precoat requirements. Consider reduced requirements for underseals and shoulders.
  1. Select the appropriate asphalt grade for the application and for competition.
  2. Select aggregate for underseal understanding need for grade and SAC.
  3. Select appropriate material for precoat or whether to precoat. Precoat may be needed for hot applied asphalt but not needed for Emulsions.
See following spreadsheet showing cost per SY for different asphalts and seals.

Aggregate manufacturers state that allowing emulsion precoating can save up to $6 a CY of aggregate.

Higher binder grades are generally not necessary for underseals.

Surface Classification does not apply to underseals.

Grade 5 aggregates have been shown to be effective aggregates for seal coats on shoulders and on lower volume roadways with smooth surfaces.

Seal Coats should be "engineered" using appropriate asphalts and aggregates, depending upon traffic, placement location, area of the state, time of the year, etc. Non-competitive materials requirements can increase asphalt cost by $100/ton.

While one sized aggregates are easy to produce at certain fractionated plants, other plants are have significant waste in production.

Suppliers reserves are more efficiently used when Grade 5 aggregates are used.

Districts are directed to evaluate their programs to look for potential efficiencies.
Typical Materials and Costs
Item 316 Cost per Square Yard
  1. Same road conditions.
  2. Emulsion allows 10% reduction in percent residue.
  3. AC-20-5TR requires a slightly higher application rate.
  4. Yellow highlight shows for precoat versus non-precoat for Grade 3S case.
  5. Not shown here is that when binders are bid with alternates, the prices are generally lower.
P 3S SAC-B$1.94$1.84$1.83$2.23$2.17$1.76
3S SAC-B$1.77$1.68$1.67$2.07$2.00$1.59
3 SAC-A$1.57$1.47$1.47$1.72$1.67$1.41
3 SAC-B$1.50$1.41$1.40$1.65$1.60$1.35
4 SAC-A$1.47$1.37$1.36$1.55$1.51$1.32
4 SAC-B$1.14$1.04$1.04$1.22$1.19$0.99
5 SAC-B$0.89$0.80$0.79$0.89$0.87$0.76
Pavement Design and Alternates for Pavement Design
IdeaPotential Cost SavingsBest ApplicationContractor's CommentsImplementation
8. Consider alternative designs.
  1. Ultra Thin Bonded Wearing Course (Novachip) versus an underseal with PFC, all with lane rental.
  2. Hot in Place Recycling with virgin material overlay in same pass (Cutler) versus Dustrol followed by an overlay versus mill and overlay with 30 percent RAP, all with lane rental.
  3. Thin Bonded PFC versus an underseal with PFC, all with lane rental.
  4. Reflective Crack Relief Interlayer (Strata) versus rich bottom layer.
  5. Concrete pavement versus flexible pavement.
  6. Look at alternative pavement designs such as lime, lime-fly ash, cement, ASB, emulsion stabilizations and combinations thereof.
  7. Recycling pavement versus virgin design to restore surfaces.
  8. Set up Type A flex base with an alternate Type B with lime.
Refer to Thomas R. Bohuslav's memorandum of December 2, 2004.
  1. Districts noted from contractor comments that even though the UTBWC was low when applying lane rental, prices for both dropped.
  2. Creates competition for the one pass (Cutler) process.
  3. Creates competition.
  4. Creates competition.
  5. Bell County project included concrete pavement alternate. Low bid was $81 M. Projected savings of concrete pavement over flexible was $11 to $16 M without applying discounts for future overlays.
  6. Will increase competition. Alternative structurally equivalent pavement designs were generated (FPS-19W) using virgin materials for a moderate level of traffic (assumed traffic was 5,000,000 ESALs). Relative costs per lane mile to construct (disregarding mobilization). Does not consider maintenance cost. What is shown below is an example of cost analysis for alternative pavement designs:
    • HMA-Cmt Stab Base-Lime Treated Subgrade: $356,800. Relative cost = 1.00
    • HMA-Lime Stab Base-Lime Treated Subgrade: $518,200. Relative cost = 1.45
    • HMA-Lime-FA Stab Base-Lime Treated Subgrade: $505,000. Relative cost = 1.42
    • HMA-ASB-Lime Treated Subgrade: $411,100. Relative cost = 1.15
    • HMA-ASB-Flex Base-Lime Treated Subgrade: $423,400. Relative cost = 1.19
  7. For an existing highway requiring rehabilitation using full-depth rehabilitation (pulverizing existing structure, cement treating reclaimed surface/base to 12-in, resurfacing with HMA), relative cost per lane mile to reconstruct is: HMA-Cmt Stab Base-no Subgrade Treatment: $ 281,500. Relative cost = 0.79

    For an existing deep HMA structure requiring rehabilitation by milling 4" of mix and resurfacing with a structural HMA overlay: HMA-existing HMA-no subgrade treatment: $304,600. Relative cost = 0.85.

  8. Yoakum district has seen some projects save as much as 22% over Type A.
  1. UTBWC is generally used in high volume areas, areas where lane rental provisions will affect prices.
  2. The one pass process reduces driver delay and additional striping. Applying lane rental is effective in higher volume areas.
  3. High traffic volume areas.
  4. High traffic volume areas, perpetual pavements.
  5. High traffic volume areas. Considerations may be made for LCC.
  6. Know your materials and alternative treatment applications available that are best suited for materials, and use appropriate designs with possible alternates for projects.
  7. Where there is limited competition for a certain types of material and in certain locations where materials are available.
Unique designs and sole source or limited sources reduces competition.

Contractors stated SMA may be as much as $70 per ton higher than Item 341.

Districts are directed to evaluate programs for potential efficiencies.

Districts are directed to evaluate programs for potential efficiencies.

9. Use RAP and crushed concrete for construction.
  1. Blend up to 50% RAP with virgin materials for driveways, crossovers, other miscellaneous areas, shoulders, for underlying layers, and for bond breaker for rejuvenated RAP and RAP blended in ACP.
  2. Use RAP in base.
  3. Allow for the use of crushed concrete for flex base.
  1. Blended with virgin material can save up to $6 per ton of mix.
  2. For shoulders, $15 a CY rejuvenated RAP versus $60 per ton for virgin ACP.
  3. For a large urban district, this could save as much as $1.5M per year.
Houston uses cement stabilized RAP for non-erodable foundations for CRCP. Contractors are support the use of RAP and crushed concrete. Districts are directed to evaluate programs for potential efficiencies.
10. Consider alternatives to 4 inch ACP as bond breaker under concrete pavement. Rigid Pavement Design allows 3 possible layer combinations (bond breaker and non-erodable material) which could be bid as alternatives
  1. 4 in. of ACP
  2. 4 in. of ASB
  3. 1 in. ASB over 6 in. of CSB
Creates competition. There is a research project to address other alternatives.     Recommended practice for districts.
11. Engineer ride and schedule application. Know existing ride for overlays.   Frontage roads, overlays on existing facilities with high IRI, and FMs. Contractors may add $5 per ton for ride contingencies. Contractors have difficulty meeting ride for frontage roads and other roads with multiple drives with curb and gutter and inlets next to travel lanes. Recommended practice for districts.
12. Consider flex base with 2 course surface treatment (CST) as an option to flex base with ACP. Traffic Assumptions: ADT 1500, 20-year 2300 - Growth rate of ~2.2%. Cumulative 20 year ESALs is 1.1 M

Strong subgrade (West Texas shallow bedrock) cost/lane mile

  • 2" HMA-8" flex base: $197,120
  • 2 CST-12" flex base: $171,380
  • relative cost ratio: 0.87

Weak subgrade (East Texas, deep bedrock)

  • 2" HMA-12" flex base +
  • 6.0" lime treated subgrade: $280,880
  • 2 CST 15" base +
  • 6.0" lime treated subgrade $243,400
  • relative cost ratio: 0.87

The assumption above for the weak subgrade scenario also assumes a Grade 1 Type A flex base. If more typical locally available flex base were used the figures for the weak subgrade region would change as follows:

  • 4" HMA-12" flex base +
  • 6.0" lime treated subgrade: $384,130
  • 2 CST 18" base +
  • 6.0" lime treated subgrade $278,600
  • relative cost ratio: 0.73
The design shown is a pure FPS 19 analysis. Experience has shown that 2 CSTs, on good flex bases, have performed well, many times better, than base and ACP. West Texas has several sections of IH that were originally constructed with 2 CST.   Districts should strongly consider flexible base with 2 CST design for rural facilities with less than 2000 ADT. Considerations above 2000 ADT are encouraged.

The Construction Division is asked to evaluated current flexible pavement design procedures to better account for performance history of 2 CSTs.

13. Apply 60 and 70 degree pavement temperature restrictions for ACP placement using good judgment.     Contractors have stated that a typical crew cost can be $600 per hour. One contractor stated the requirement will cost between $2 and $3 per ton of all mix placed by their company per year. Contractors will bid additional cost. Districts should educate their inspectors on district practices for applying the specification and consider all factors identified in the Construction Technical Quarterly. Districts should develop general notes necessary for applying the requirement in their district.
Alternative Materials, Material Allowances, and Requirements
IdeaPotential Cost SavingsBest ApplicationContractor's CommentsImplementation
14. Reuse MBGF rail that is determined to be in good condition. Assuming districts do not reuse any (some do) and assuming that approximately 30 percent of it is reusable the potential savings could be $2,000,000 a year. Any guardrail repair project could utilize salvaged rail. It would not only reduce cost but blend in with the old rail. It could also be used for retaining walls and access control.   Recommended practice for districts.
15. SGT on off-system bridges. TxDOT replaced 151off-system bridges last FY. SGT's averaged $1,997 and turn downs averaged $371. This would have been a net savings of $1,000,000 statewide.   Contractors recommendation as well due to concerns over expected County maintenance. Administration to discuss with FHWA. (This would require a change in design policy.)
16. Reconsider requirements for certification for concrete plants and trucks, including structural concrete. This cost is $1000-$2000 for plants and $1000 to $7000 for trucks per year. Added cost would be due to a plant or truck requiring repair in order to pass the inspection. New special provision 421-024 now allows the Engineer to waive the certification requirement for non-structural concrete and non-bridge class culverts.   Contractors say this adds cost particularly in rural areas. A Contractor stated their price for concrete went from $80 to $120 a CY for structural concrete due to lack of competition. Current special provision is optional to districts for non-structural and non-bridge class culvert concrete. Districts may submit to the Specification Committee a special provision for structural concrete plant inspection by the department, beyond the 421-042. Districts are to include justification for approval.
17. Proper requirements for PG binder.
  1. Reduce use of restrictive specification requirements.
  2. Specify higher grade PG binder only when needed.
  1. Item 341 Type-C SAC-A, PG 76-22 vs PG 76-22S: 12 mo. Moving avg. $68.45 vs $72.54/ton - $4/ton diff.

    Item 341 Type-C SAC-B, PG 70-22 vs PG 70-22S: 12 mo. Moving avg. 63.91 vs 74.99/ton - $11/ton diff.

    Item 341 Type-C SAC-B, PG 76-22 vs PG 76-22S: 12 mo. Moving avg. 68.22 vs 80.14/ton - $12/ton diff.

  2. Statewide Avg Bid prices show PG 70 for Type A was used. PG 70-22 is polymer modified where PG 64-22 is not. Item 340 Type A w/ PG70-22 = $85/ton versus w/ PG 64-22 = $72/ton -- $13/ton diff.
  1. Not specifying a specific polymer increases competition. All high grade PG binders will have an elastic polymer (SBR latex, SBS, or TR), so there is not a need to call for a specific polymer.
  2. HMA mixtures in lower layers of pavement structure do not see extremes in environment and consequently to not need high grade PG binders.
Contractors state that PG 76 TR increases cost $100-150 per ton of asphalt.

AR can increase cost $100/ton of asphalt

CST to develop a guidance document for mixes and asphalt necessary for the conditions. Districts are to reduce non-competitive requirements and apply PG grading requirements with a statewide perspective.
18. Provide for alternative materials and construction methods in PS&E. For certain materials, haul limits the competition severely and the more options you can give, the better prices we can get from a contractor.
  1. Provide AEP, PCE, EAP&T as an option to MC-30
  2. Use emulsions as alternatives for prime coat. (Item 310 versus Item 314 and CSS-1 and SS-1.)
  3. Alternative binders for seal coat.
  4. Concrete pipe and plastic pipe alternates.
  5. Hardie pipe alternates to concrete pipe.
  1. AEP example 12mo. Moving avg. Item 310 MC-30=$2.86 and AEP=$1.92; PCE= $1.5/gal. Application rates are approximately the same as MC-30. This provides options, especially when the materials are not readily available.
  2. For Item 314 (alternate to 310) MS - 2 OR AEP is $2.25. For the same residual, will require higher application rate for the emulsion but creates options for bidders that will increase competition for the MC-30 product.
  3. For most applications, alternatives can be bid against each other to create more competition.
  4. Creates competition. From the statewide 12 month average low bid unit price for all concrete pipe, 1,056,551 LF of pipe was bid for a total price of $ 78,899,019. If an alternative pipe was used at a 30 % savings, the potential savings could be $23,699,706 a year.
  1. Non-attainment areas and areas where MC-30 is not always readily available locally.
  2. Where there is limited competition for a certain type of material.
  3. In areas where seal coats are used extensively and competition is limited.
  4. Use in accordance with BRG guidance in memo from Mr. Saenz dated 9/17/02.
  5. Use in accordance with guidance in memo from Mr. Saenz 2/2/06. Some pipe is not currently allowed under high volume roadway but driveway pipe is a considerable portion of the total LF.
Allow a wide variety of materials and products. Recommended practice for districts.
19. Allow for Class 5 or Class 8 for concrete joint seal. Used for joint sealer for concrete pavement or bridge joint sealant. Allowing Class 5 or 8 increases the number of material sources and results in more competition. That for similar size projects specifying Class 8 cost $1.63/lf and Class 5 cost $2.25/lf. Class 8 is for concrete only and Class 5 is for either. Class 5 has effectively one source. Both will perform for concrete.   Districts are to allow for both materials.
Structures and Structure Aesthetics
IdeaPotential Cost SavingsBest ApplicationContractor's CommentsImplementation
20. Aesthetics Bridges
  1. Example of steel traps versus I-beams.
  2. Minimize wall panel unique designs.
  3. Ask locals to participate in the aesthetic cost.
  4. Standardize design and repetition. In regard to repetition, address competition.
  5. Address consultant designs not in agreement with TxDOT standards or practice.
  6. Reduce painted concrete.
  1. Could have saved $1 M on one project and traps would have required fracture critical BRINSAP inspections.
  2. In some cases, it can add $6000 per panel. Cost can go up $6.50 SF.
  3. While initial cost is low, around $0.25 per SF, maintenance costs are high. Hartman bridge initial paint was $20,000 and a repaint has been let for $800,000, requires removal of existing paint and total cost is $3 to $5 per SF.
Odd and expensive features not normal for TxDOT. Need consistent design that reduces risk for construction. This is something that needs to be communicated to consultants up front. It includes maintenance cost down the road.
  • Standardize bridge design elements.
  • Design for a whole corridor.
  • Standardize forms and form liners. Communicate future plans to contractors.
  • Contractors can reduce costs if they know they can reuse forms and form liners and bid more projects in an area.
  • Reduce complexity and unique designs to save money.
  • Contractors stated the concrete bid price can increase from $25 per yard to double if the forms are not reused.
  • Non-complex designs and repetitive elements decrease costs.
  • Provide aesthetics to meet public support for projects.
  • Slip form rail is generally $20 less per foot.
  • Project fast track schedules can require an increased number of specialty forms that can increase cost further.
Districts are directed to evaluate programs for potential efficiencies.
21. Design foundations to the appropriate depth.

Several cases where foundations have been designed to a depth exceeding requirements. One case where there was 144 feet of excessive drilled shaft at an extra cost of $24,768.

There have also been cases where a design penetrates well beyond the 3 (surface) and 1 (at depth) diameter into rock. One case of 80 feet of excessive penetration at an extra cost of $22,000.

    Districts are directed to evaluate programs for potential efficiencies.
Roadside Maintenance and Landscaping
IdeaPotential Cost SavingsBest ApplicationContractor's CommentsImplementation
22. Reduce intensive landscape that requires high maintenance, hand mowing, bed maintenance. Execute agreements with locals to perform maintenance. Let landscape along a corridor. TxDOT spends approximately $5M/year for landscape maintenance, increasing approximately $500,000 per year. If no additional intensive landscape maintenance were installed or if agreements were made with cities, counties or associations (Garden clubs, etc) to maintain those areas, potential savings would be $500,000/yr. Districts should consider these alternatives on all landscape projects.

Contractors agree with letting landscaping separately. Standardize materials.

Example of cost savings:

Contractor stated that he could have hydromulched at $283 an acre versus emulsion, mulch, and seed treatment at $1650 an acre.

Recommended practice for districts. Districts should coordinate work so that only necessary landscaping is included in the plans and further consider letting landscape along corridors after construction is complete.
23. Mowing start dates need to be more flexible. Do in a way that encourages competition. From analyzing some comparable districts that are flexible with start work dates to districts that require all contractors to start on the same date, a cost savings of $4.78 per acre was observed. There are only 2 districts that require all contractors to start on the same day. These districts could save a total of about $550,000 per year by staggering starting dates. Districts can initiate mowing at any time needed.   Districts are directed to evaluate programs for potential efficiencies.
24. Maintenance related.

Mowing when not needed.

Mowing 8 inch grass to 4 inches.

In FY 2006, we mowed 1,779,595 acres at $26.80 per AC. Assuming that 10 percent of those acres did not need mowing then we could have potentially saved $4,769,315. Many of the areas that do not need mowing are being mowed due to the cost of performing spot mowing on many different areas. It has proven more cost effective to perform a strip mowing.   Districts are directed to evaluate programs for potential efficiencies.
25. Increase use of prison labor. Contract with prisons to clean, repaint, service equipment, etc. The Lubbock District spent an average of $17,000 for oil change and car wash services during the last two fiscal years. Since the Lubbock District has one of the largest fleets, the average district expense will be less than that. If the average district expense is estimated at $12,000 per year, and 50% of the districts were able to utilize prison facilities for these services, we could potentially save $150,000 per year. When Districts have prison labor and facilities available to perform these functions, this option should be explored. Prison facilities would need to be located close to TxDOT needs to avoid excessive travel to utilize them. The prison would need to provide consistent hours of operation in order for this to be efficient for TxDOT. Availability of prison labor may be an issue as not all districts have access to prison labor.   Districts are to work with MNT to execute agreements with TDJC for prison labor. (Not all prisons have access to the facilities and equipment necessary to perform all these tasks. Even when a location has a prison which is capable and equipped to perform the work, it is not always reliable, from a time standpoint, due to prison requirements, lock downs, etc. TDCJ needs to have a standard approach to these agreements across the state. The use of prison labor could affect State use contracts in various parts of the state.)
IdeaPotential Cost SavingsBest ApplicationContractor's CommentsImplementation
26. Reduce RPM spacing to 80 foot everywhere. It is further proposed that routine placements not exceed the standard. If RPM spacing was 80 foot everywhere, there could be a possible cost savings of $134 per mile.    

TRF is to evaluate implementation of 80 foot spacing. (TxDOT's current policy requires 40 foot spacing on no passing zones. The 40 foot spacing increases the safety in those areas which generally have limited sight distance. TRF believes that it would be more prudent to enforce 80 foot spacing on frontage roads and those roads which exceed the minimum standard of 80 foot spacing.

There are issues where 40 foot spacing is used for all locations, beyond the requirements in the standard.)

27. Use the latest formulation of water base paint to stripe previous year seal coat. The latest formulation of water base paint will last about double or triple of regular water base and is cheaper than thermo. The newest formulation traffic paint (all of this is water-based), has higher durability than before and costs approximately the same as 60mil of thermo. This might be cost effective for seal coats in lower traffic areas for initial stripe. Follow in off season or a year later with a pure striping contract with thermo for a longer lasting stripe.   Districts are directed to evaluate programs for potential efficiencies.
28. Reconsider use of in-house striping. Cost savings would vary across the state, but many areas in West Texas have few local striping contractors and pay a higher price to have contractors mobilize to those districts to perform striping. Cost increases ranging from $500,000 up to $4,000,000 annually have been reported. If that range is averaged and applied to the 7 districts in the West Texas region, it amounts to an increase of $15,750,000 annually. Some districts are reporting contract costs are cheaper than in-house striping costs. This appears to be applicable to districts which have a good number of local striping contractors and good competition on bids. Where you don't have local striping contractors, the bid prices are high due to the mobilization requirements and the competition is less. Small quantity striping needs suffer greatly due to the mobilization requirements.   Current department direction is to move away from in-house striping. MNT is asked to evaluate for further consideration.
29. Don't remove reflective tabs on roads without buttons and low volume roads. Tab suppliers may be able to design durability.
  1. If tabs were not removed on seal coats, there could be a possible cost savings of $30 per mile.
  2. If tabs were not removed on short term work zones, there could be a possible cost savings of $111 per mile.
  Numbers on savings are reported by contractors. TRF to develop a policy for Administration's consideration for rural facilities where leaving the tabs does not create a conflict.
IdeaPotential Cost SavingsBest ApplicationContractor's CommentsImplementation
30. Use delayed time start and flexible start date provisions. Allows smaller contractors to bid and adds efficiency opportunities. Reduced contractor overhead and increased competition. Where there is limited competition or where significant ramp up is needed. Allow contractors to adjust schedule and they can bid more projects. Districts are to implement whenever possible.
31. Give more time for Contractor's plan review prior to letting.
  1. Web site with preliminary plans. More than one month. 6 to 8 weeks. Stamped with EPA requirements if needed, on Web.
  2. Consider release proposal and plans 2 weeks earlier.
    Months are used for design, but contractors get a week to figure costs to bid.

DES to further address procedures with Administration for earlier release of preliminary plans.

Districts currently have procedures for release of preliminary plans (See Amadeo Saenz' memo dated January 4, 2002, and Ken Bohuslav's memo dated June 11, 2002.)

32. Create an "open for business" air.
  1. Call contractors on release date to encourage bidders.
  2. Call contractors after the letting to determine why they didn't bid.
  3. Discuss plans and proposal with contractors to determine if there are issues with the contract that create difficulties or barriers to bidding.
  4. Issue addenda as needed.
  5. Welcome bidders in showing jobs. Be available for showing jobs.
  6. For unique work, such as special forms, discuss future projects.
  1. Call contractors.
  2. Give a timely response to questions. Encourage pre-bid meetings. In TCP, short work hours mean increased cost.
  3. Contractors can reduce costs if they know they can reuse forms and form liners and bid more projects in an area or in future. Re-emphasize partnering.
Recommended practice for districts.
33. Consider waiving prequalification on construction projects. (Waiver of prequalification is the default for construction projects less than $300,000 and all RMCs.) Prequalification cost a contractor at least $2,000 to $50,000. A compiled or reviewed financial statement (Bidders Questionnaire) is as little as a few hundred dollars. In addition, waiving the prequalification creates increased competition. This is especially good for projects that are similar to maintenance projects, simple projects, or projects that require smaller contractors such as landscape.   Districts are directed to evaluate programs for potential efficiencies.
34. Reconsider implementation of Value Engineering (VE) for the construction phase. Ohio contractor proposed changing a mill, jointed concrete pavement joint seal and 2 inch overlay to a mill, crack and seat, and 7 inch overlay, saving the state $2 M which was split. Using straight quantity savings, the contractor had no incentive.     Reimplementation for construction VE is currently under consideration by the Administration. CST is compiling information for consideration.
35. Use additive and deductive alternates. Must award on base bid or predetermined budget amount. Helps getting a project awarded and staying on budget. Especially when we have third party funding. Consider when third party funds are included in projects or other projects where project budget has a more than normal impact on the award decision.   Districts should consider for the type of projects addressed in "Best Application."
36. Reduce contract duration and scope, so risk is less. Even though long term may reduce cost. In some cases, with highly volatile items and resources, contractors have to put in more risk. Although there is potential cost savings, there are frequently lower costs for longer term contracts because contractors can amortize equipment over a longer period of time. Volatile pricing situations, like we are in now, cause prices to escalate in longer term contracts because contractors are bidding in unknowns. We anticipate these will cancel each other out. Projects where current material prices are very volatile, such as asphalt projects.   Districts are directed to evaluate programs for potential efficiencies.
37. Consider project size to increase competition.
  1. Economy of scale, bundling or splitting projects.
  2. Area contractor capacity.
  3. Consider material source influences on competition.
  4. Consider subcontractor cost when bundling so odd work is not included.

In a previous review competition, generally across the state we saw an average number of bidders as follows:

  • Less than $10 M - 3 bids.
  • $10 M to 150 M - 5 bids.
  • Greater than $150 M - 1.5 bids.
Know your contractors bidding capacity or limits of work volume. Discuss the size that they can bid and set at an amount that you can get good competition. Limited bidders on projects that are $200M+ Districts are directed to evaluate programs for potential efficiencies.
38. Provide state yard and plant locations on-ROW or lease space off-ROW. Consider acquisition of yard sites for TxDOT that contractors could use for construction yards, etc.     Allow plants on the ROW and roadside pits. Lowers cost and increases competition. No quantification of cost savings. Strongly recommended practice for districts.
39. Update estimates. Use addendum to address barriers to bidding.    

Contractors may not bid a project with low estimates or inadequate time.

Contractors do not bid when their preliminary estimates far exceed the Engineers estimate.

Recommended practice for districts.
40. Quality of plans and information needed by contractors including available materials, yard, water, and base sources. Include photographs. Contractors bid on projects with the best information available. If substantial field investigation is necessary or the contract is unclear about some provisions, the contractors bid higher to cover their cost of bidding on the project and manage their risk. Reducing the contractor's risk by improving the quality of information available in the plans would definitely save money. Construction and Maintenance Contracts amounted to $5.6B in FY 2006. Assuming improved plans would result in a ½ % reduction in bid prices, annual savings would be $26,500,000 Culvert extensions, channel work, any project where substantial field investigation would be necessary. The inclusion of photographs or video's would save the contractor time. Improved quantity calculations and plan quality will reduce errors in the plans that frequently results in expensive change orders or claims.

Review consultant plans.

Consultants tend to over design and not consider construction cost.

41. Consider appropriate time for project completion.     Contractors stated they tend to not bid when time is set at an amount they consider unreasonable. Districts are to use good engineering judgment for establishing practices.
42. Evaluate restrictive work hours and the effect of time to set up traffic control on production for daily operations.     Contractors stated when restrictive work hours are set, additional consideration for actual production hours needs to be taken into account. For further district consideration.
Project Scope
IdeaPotential Cost SavingsBest ApplicationContractor's CommentsImplementation
43. Appropriate Design for Projected Capacity
  1. Ensure that divided 4 lanes are being built that design year capacity justifies added lanes or divided facility. Designs can be phased in over time. This may address several rural connectivity projects.
  1. Use of super 2 lane can save an estimated $50 M on a 25 mile project versus of the cost of a divided 4 lane project. Recommended as an interim condition for roadways of less than 5,000 ADT and staggered passing lanes (not simultaneous as this could possibly eliminate future funding for trunk system criteria).

Districts may wish to discuss with Administration reduced scope and phased construction.

Administration to consider further.

44. Use minimums versus desirable when safety or the future improvements to the transportation system is not compromised.   Ex. Providing a 10' shoulder when only a 4' shoulder is needed. Provide for a wider shoulder at specific areas such as added shoulder for turning or passing movements.   This is an engineering decision that needs to be made based on each project. No policy is needed to change; it is at the discretion of the district now.
IdeaPotential Cost SavingsBest ApplicationContractor's CommentsImplementation
45. Use HES funding to offset the cost of Rehabilitation projects either through scheduling sequential projects like some other states or through the combination of funding. This would allow simple credit for safety work in rehabilitation projects.     Does not require a revision to policy, as this is currently allowed and encouraged to get economy of scale. However, the safety work will still require index justification.
46. Return to the use of more 2R (Restoration) projects. Will reduce the scope of projects.     Administration to discuss with DES and FHWA. (Below 3000 ADT requirement was a condition for using federal funding. Its intent was to ensure TxDOT would improve the system when we are doing major pavement repair. ADT was previously increased from 1500 ADT to 3000 ADT. )
47. Need district carryover for 105 and 144 each year. Will allow a district to manage their work so they are not forced to let work or buy materials they don't necessarily need.
  1. In strategy 105, no direct cost savings could be identified, however, this could possibly help to make the districts more efficient in their use of their budgets.
  2. In strategy 144, the direct cost savings would be minimal, and districts already have this ability.
Could allow districts to plan work that would span fiscal years utilizing current fiscal year budget.   TxDOT already has the ability to carry unused Strategy 144 funds forward into the next fiscal year. Carryover of Strategy 105 funds would require changes in legislation.
48. Eliminate individual transfer fees for NOIs, etc and do one for the entire state. Administrative savings not quantified but recognized.     ENV to address further. Would require an agreement with TCEQ and a method to determine statewide fees.
49. Consider elimination of subsidiary work that is essential to the bid item.     Contractors gave examples where dirt work for widening was subsidiary and was not quantified. They stated the risk in their bid was high to cover their concerns. Districts should evaluate subsidiary work to ensure the value does not overwhelm the cost of the work or create undue risk on the contractor.
Updated: 10/29/2015
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