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SEP-14 Evaluation: City of Phoenix
Downtown Traffic Management System (DTMS)
Construction Manager at Risk (CM@R) Process Evaluation
February 2003

1. Introduction

The purpose of this project is to construct a Traffic Management System that will deliver significant improvements to the event traffic and parking management practices in downtown Phoenix. The project will enhance current control methods and coordinate detection, monitoring, and communications technologies and integrate the technologies system-wide. The City of Phoenix Downtown Traffic Management System (DTMS) is a hybrid project that includes minor roadway geometric enhancements, installation of conduit, CCTV cameras, variable message signs and blank-out signs. In addition to these construction elements, a key component of this project is the development, furnishing, installation, integration and testing of the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) control software.

The City of Phoenix has elected to have this project constructed through a Construction Manager at Risk (CM@R) contract. The City has used this contracting method on a number of projects in the past, but this is the first time the City has used this method for an ITS project. The basis of the CM@R process is that the CM@R firm is responsible for a complete in-place and functioning system. The DTMS software requirements are not available as an off the shelf software package. Therefore, the prime contractor must be carefully evaluated based on several criteria, not only that of lowest bid. Due to the complexities of software integration the experience of the contractor is crucial to the overall success of the project.

The City of Phoenix selected PB Farradyne as the CM@R for the Pre-Construction and Construction Phases of the DTMS project. This document will review the selection process used for choosing a prime contractor, the project process, and discuss the benefits and challenges that have been encountered thus far in the project.

2. Procurement Process

The direction to use the CM@R process was first provided by the Engineering and Architectural Services Department of the City of Phoenix. This particular division of the City has used CM@R on numerous existing and past construction projects. These projects include projects at the City's Water Treatment Facilities, Sky Harbor Airport, and other City facilities such as libraries and museums.

The CM@R process was perceived to be suitable for the DTMS project for two primary reasons: the contractor selection is qualification based, and the Pre-Construction Phase of the CM@R contract method utilizes an extensive evaluation process allowing constructability and design issues to be examined and addressed.

Upon choosing the CM@R process, the City accepted Statements of Qualifications (SOQ) from four contractors. The SOQ from these four contractors were evaluated based upon the experience and qualifications of the team, overall understanding of the project, and proposed implementation approach. Two contractors were selected to be interviewed.

At the completion of the interview process PB Farradyne was selected as the CM@R for the DTMS project. This team exhibited project understanding by presenting issues within the plans that they believed would present significant constructability challenges once the project went to construction. PB Farradyne provided an in-depth analysis to City representatives that showed they understood the project fully and were concerned with making sure the deployment of this system went as smoothly as possible. In addition, PB Farradyne has an existing signal control software, MIST, that will be the basis for the system software in the DTMS project. PB Farradyne laid out their plan for software development: to start with MIST, and then to develop the additional pieces to be added to it for each of the DTMS system requirements. This is perceived to be a cost saving software development approach.

The team indicated that the software would be developed using the System Engineering Method which views the system as a whole and incorporates all engineering disciplines to provide constant review of the system design. This process is intended to produce a system that meets the needs of all the end users in the most efficient way. This is done by initially defining the exact requirements of the system, developing the system to meet these requirements, evaluating the system to ensure the necessary requirements are being fulfilled, and throughout the entire process reviewing and modifying the system to improve overall performance or correct deficiencies (Fet 10).

3. Project Process

With the CM@R identified, the project will encounter two distinct phases, the Pre-Construction Phase and the Construction Phase. The key participants in this project are the City, CM@R (PB Farradyne), and the design professional (Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.). During the Pre-Construction Phase, this team will review the plans for any potential constructability, design, and implementation issues and modify the plans as necessary. In addition to plan review, the CM@R will act in a supervisory capacity providing the City with potential solutions to problems and highlighting areas where costs can be reduced, without compromising the overall success of the project. The CM@R will also learn the expectations the City staff has for the project. Doing so during the Pre-Construction Phase will guide the CM@R through decisions that must be made later during construction. Upon completion of the Pre-Construction Phase, the CM@R will provide the City with a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) and project construction and implementation schedule.

Once the Construction Phase begin, the CM@R will be responsible for all coordination of subconsultants and project construction decisions. The City will act primarily in an oversight capacity leaving the task assignment and project direction decisions in the hands of the CM@R. This phase includes the physical construction of conduit and equipment and the installation and integration of the system software. Due to the contracting process, construction change orders will only be issued in the event of major design changes or delays that could not have been foreseen during the Pre-Construction Phase of the project.

Over the course of the project this process is anticipated to reduce cost and time required to complete the system.

4. Benefits Received

Thus far, the Pre-Construction Phase has produced a significant benefit to the project. The addition of this phase has allowed the CM@R, the design professional and all divisions of the City to review the plans as a team and raise any issues that may compromise the overall success of the project. The collaboration between these groups improves the overall design. Each participant has different concerns and ideas on how the project can be improved. The cooperation of this group improves the design drastically by providing multiple solutions to any given challenge.

An additional significant outcome of the Pre-Construction Phase was the discovery that fiber, presumed to have been installed by a private company, was never installed. This is crucial to the success of the project because two of these fibers were going to be used for field element communication. Currently the team is working on solutions to provide communications to these particular elements. Had the Pre-Construction Phase never occurred, as in a standard construction process, construction would have begun without knowing that the fiber was not installed, the project would have been delayed, and cost to the City could have risen considerably.

5. Challenges Encountered

The first challenge associated with this project is the fact that this project type is new to both the City of Phoenix Street and Transportation Department and to the CM@R, PB Farradyne. Throughout the process both parties are learning the requirements of this contracting process and sorting out which responsibilities lie with each project partner. Although this challenge is not a difficult one to overcome, it has been noted that some activities have taken more time to progress than would have been necessary if both partners were practiced in the use of the CM@R process.

The other challenge associated with the CM@R method for construction is the amount of time that is required to go through the Pre-Construction Phase. In a conventional project, construction could be almost underway, while with the CM@R process, breaking ground is still two or three months away. Over the course of the project, however, it is possible that the time spent at the front end identifying and solving potential issues will outweigh the time that would have been otherwise lost due to construction delays.

6. Future Project Expectations

The City has one major concern as the project proceeds into the Construction Phase. In the past, members of the City have controlled a project by having the final say in construction related decisions. In this process, however, the decision-making authority rests with the CM@R. Although the City will act in an oversight capacity and will have directing authority, there is some apprehension within the City concerning how this process will occur. The City is, however, relatively confident that many of the major decisions will have already been addressed during the Pre-Construction Phase that is currently underway. The key to success will be the City's continuing trust in the CM@R.

The CM@R, raised a second potential issue that may arise as the DTMS project progresses. That is, establishing the expectations of all parties for the software development. The software development aspect of this project will not begin until actual construction of the project has begun. To address this concern, a software requirements evaluation has been conducted. During this evaluation, the initial Software/System Requirements were examined and the CM@R proposed Software/System Requirements Modifications. The Modifications to the software were approved by the City. This process has established a well defined set of requirement needs. It is essential that discussions between the City and CM@R remain open during the Construction Phase software development because discoveries about the software will be made throughout its development.

7. Conclusions

The CM@R process thus far has shown to be very beneficial in identifying construction issues and in building team cooperation among project partners. There is some apprehension on both sides, the City and the CM@R, to see how the process progresses through the Construction Phase. Also, it remains to be seen whether the time and effort put forth in the beginning stages of this process will outweigh the loss time and additional cost that would have otherwise occurred during the construction of the project. Even though these concerns and questions exist, both parties feel that this process is appropriate for this project, and feel that the overall final product will be significantly better due to the contracting process being used.

Works Cited

Fet, Annik Magerholm. Systems Engineering, Environmental Management tools and their application in Industrial Ecology, Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 2002.


Jerry Yakowenko
Office of Program Administration
E-mail Jerry

Updated: 04/07/2011

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration