State Highway Administration
Maryland Department of Transportation
December 4, 2008
Mr. Nelson Castellanos
Federal Highway Administration
City Crescent Building
10 South Howard Street, Suite 2450
Baltimore, MD 21201
Attn: Mr. Jitesh Parikh
Dear Mr. Castellanos:
By letter dated June 19, 2006, FHWA approved the SHA's request for a waiver to 23 CFR 636.209. Specifically, the SHA requested a waiver from the requirement that states, "[a]lternate technical concept proposals may supplement, but not substitute for base proposals that respond to the RFP requirements." The SHA's method of evaluating alternative technical concepts during the proposal review process was deemed satisfactory (with concurrence from FHWA Headquarters office) under FHWA's Special Experimental Program 14 (SEP-14), innovative contracting experimenting program.
As required by that approval, we have completed a summary of the process. The attached document provides FHWA with a brief evaluation of the SHA's experience to date using Alternative Technical Concepts (ATCs) in the procurement of the ICC Contracts.
If you or your staff have any questions or would like to discuss the results of the Intercounty Connector Project's ATC Process you may contact me at 301-586-9265.
Melinda B. Peters, P.E., Director
Office of the Intercounty Connector
cc: Mr. Sajid Aftab
Ms. Lisa Choplin
Mr. Ken Briggs
Mr. Mark Coblentz
Intercounty Connector (ICC) Design-Build Program
Alternative Technical Concepts
Review and Justification
Contracts A, B and C
The purpose of this paper is to provide FHWA with a brief evaluation of SHA's experience using Alternative Technical Concepts (ATCs) in the procurement of ICC Contracts A, B and C. By letter dated June 19, 2006, FHWA approved SHA's request for a waiver to 23 CFR 636.209. Specifically, MSHA requested a waiver from the requirement that states "Alternate technical concept proposals may supplement, but not substitute for base proposals that respond to the RFP requirements." SHA's method of evaluating alternative technical concepts during the proposal review process was deemed satisfactory (with concurrence from FHWA Headquarters office) under FHWA's Special Experimental Program 14 (SEP-14), innovative contracting experimenting program.
1. Alternative Technical Concepts (ATCs)
The Administration's procurement process for the 18.8-mile Intercounty Connector (ICC) project was based on use of the competitive sealed proposal process (or "Best-Value, Design-Build"). As a part of that process, the administration used alternative technical concepts, as set forth in Section 3.0 of the RFP, to allow innovation and flexibility to be incorporated into the Proposals (see attached sections of the RFP).
The ATC process allowed Proposers to submit for pre-approval by the Administration their proposed alternatives to the requirements of Part 3 - Design Requirements and Performance Specifications of the Contract Documents and design solutions included in the Directive Plans of Part 6 - Request for Proposals Plans of the Contract Documents. The Administration did not approve any ATC that entailed a deviation from the requirements of the as-issued Contract Documents, unless the Administration determined, in its sole discretion, that the proposed end product based on the deviation was equal to or better than the end product absent the deviation. The ATC process facilitated modifications to permitted approvals, if the Administration believed that those modifications would provide an overall benefit, and if it was both feasible and possible to obtain permit modifications from the Resource Agencies.
The Proposers were then permitted to incorporate any "pre-approved" ATC into their final Proposal, as they saw fit (i.e., it was not required that all approved ATCs be included in their Final Proposal).
2. Evaluation of the Use of ATCs Without a Base Proposal
The waiver of FHWA's requirement to furnish a base proposal provided each proposer the opportunity to submit ATCs for pre-approval and then to submit a proposal with or without ATCs. The SHA's procurement process was carefully crafted to avoid any potential unfairness. Pre-approval of deviations, from design requirements that otherwise would be deferred until after the contract is awarded, was required as part of this process. The proposed ATC process gave the SHA the ability to factor the proposers' technical solutions into the selection process, allowing a true "best value" selection; and gave the SHA access to solutions from all proposers. It also gave the successful proposer a head start on implementation of its ATCs, and avoided unnecessary costs for proposers to advance a base design that was not used.
3. Summary of SHA's ATC Process
The RFP contained all the Contract requirements against which an ATC was measured during the review. Any part of the Contract Documents could have been affected; however, ATCs were expected to propose alternates to either a design requirement/performance specification (Part 3), a directive element contained in the RFP Plans (Part 6), and/or the Basic Project Configuration (Appendix A to Part 1 and also in Part 6).
Section 3.0 of the ITP portion of the RFP contained all the "rules" for both the submittal and the review of ATCs. Highlights of ITP Section 3.0 are as follows:
- To be approved, end products of ATCs must be of equal to or better than the RFP concepts and permitted by environmental approvals;
- The review must be completed by the Administration within two weeks of the receipt of an ATC;
- At the end of the review, the Proposer must be notified that their ATC was either approved, disapproved, conditionally approved, needs additional questions answered, or does not qualify;
- Communications between the Administration and the Proposer to better understand the details of an ATC were permitted to take place in writing and/or in one-on-one meetings;
- Approved (or conditionally approved) ATCs constituted a change in the Contract requirement for only that Proposer and may be incorporated into only that Proposer's Proposal;
- ATCs were considered confidential, including the handling, safeguarding, reviewing and communications within the Administration.
4. General Benefits of ATCs
- As part of the ATC submittal and review process, the Proposer was required to provide detail concerning how the ATC would impact the environment (social and natural, including commitments), safety, life cycles or maintenance costs, potential costs to the Administration and the price proposal for the contract. Therefore, the ATC process led to approved ATCs that minimized the impact on the environment, did not reduce the overall quality of the final product, and would not increase the cost of the contract.
- The Proposer's development of an ATC typically included engineering design beyond the design level provided by the Administration when the RFP was prepared.
- Approval of ATCs during the proposal process provided the Proposer the ability to further develop the project design and construction schedules.
- Given the environmental sensitivity of the ICC project, the RFP included many environmental requirements and commitments. These environmental requirements or commitments were in many cases general in nature. For instance, details regarding the limits to which the mainline profile could be adjusted were provided. In that instance, the ATC process gave the Proposer the ability to request, with justification, adjustments within that requirement, at specific locations.
- By carefully maintaining the full confidentiality of the ATCs submitted, the Administration encouraged the Proposers to develop and submit ATCs. This provided opportunity for Proposers to differentiate their proposals by being creative and innovative.
5. Summary of ATC's for Contracts A, B & C
A. ICC Contract A
Contract A is the first segment of the Intercounty Connector, extending from I-270/I-370 to approximately MD 97 in Montgomery County, Maryland. This contract consists of approximately 7.2 miles of new, controlled access, six lane, tolled roadway with three interchanges including I-370/MD 355, I-370\Shady Grove Road and Metro Access Road, and ICC/MD 97. Also included are adjustments to 5 local roadways crossing the ICC, a 625 foot long deckover structure at Olde Mill Run, 22 bridge structures including a signature concrete arch structure, approximately 25 cross culverts, and 5 miles of noise barriers.
Contract A - ATC Results
|Proposer||ATCs Submitted||Approved||Submitted with Proposal|
Benefits to Contract A
- A number of ATCs on Contract A requested profile revisions that were outside that allowed by the basic project configuration (typically +/-5'). In general, the design-build teams were able to make these profile adjustments and remain inside the contract Limit of Disturbance (LOD). In several instances, these adjustments were able to reduce impacts associated with the project. Not all of the requested ATCs were approved - several which proposed to raise the profile within residential areas were deemed inappropriate given the commitments made in the FEIS. Through the ATC process, the successful proposer, IC, modified the profile sufficiently to balance the earthwork on the project. Balanced earthwork minimized the cost of the project and avoided the need to haul earth over local roadways to/from the project.
- A significant ATC that was approved by the Administration involved the reconfiguration of the Metro Access / l-370 / ICC interchange on the western end of the project. This revision, which required additional environmental approvals and purchase of additional right of way, provided several benefits to the project, including:
- Reduced the interchange from a three level interchange to a two level interchange, therefore reducing its visibility to neighboring communities (including one historic community).
- Provided the same level of service as the concept interchange
- Reduced the number of bridges in the interchange, thereby decreasing future maintenance costs
- Improved lane continuity on the ICC.
- Several ATCs received for Contract A were related to structures:
- Use of fan-wall style noise walls was approved via ATC. This reduced construction costs and improved aesthetics by increasing the planting area associated with the walls.
- Use of Box-Beams for the BR-16 Deck Over Structure. By simplifying construction, and allowing many elements to be precast instead of cast in place, overall impacts on the Winters Run neighborhood were reduced.
B. ICC Contract B
Contract B is the third segment of the Intercounty Connector (ICC), extending from east of Maryland 97 to west of US 29. Contract B consists of approximately 7.0 miles of new, controlled access, six-lane, tolled roadway; with two interchanges including ICC/MD 182 and ICC/MD 650. Contract B also includes 5 dual mainline bridges and 5 side road bridges over the ICC.
Contract B - ATC Results
|Proposer||ATCs Submitted||Approved||Submitted with Proposal|
Benefits to Contract B
- Several ATCs on Contract B were related to structures. These ATCs reduced construction time within sensitive environmental areas, reduced impacts to the environment, and simplified constructability. Each of these ATCs indicated cost savings. They included:
- ATC #3 - Additional piers at bridge BR-29 and BR-33
- ATC #7 - Deck overhang ratios at bridge BR-28 and BR-34
- ATC# l6 - Drilled shaft foundations at bridge piers
- ATC# 14 involved the reduction of the mainline median width from 50' to 36' within the Upper Paint Branch Special Protection Area (SPA). The 50' median was a design and environmental commitment made in order to supplement the design and construction of water quality management features within the SPA, the most sensitive area of the ICC. With further detailed design, there is the potential that the water quality commitments could be met within a 36' median. This particular ATC was conditionally approved, pending design verification that the RFP requirements and commitments could be met, and permitting agency approvals could be attained. If the winning MD 200 Constructors Team is able to demonstrate that the 36' median does meet the commitments, the reduction in median would lead to several environmental benefits (reduced forest, stream and wetland impacts), the benefit of moving the highway a little further from adjacent homes, reduction in costs due to earthwork and constructability, and other associated benefits.
- ATC# 18 included further locally defining where the mainline profile could be adjusted beyond the limits of the RFP requirements. The benefit if the ATC was the balancing of earthwork, reduction in costs, and minimization of earth hauling across local roadways. Potential impacts to an adjacent historic site are, as yet, to be determined through coordination with the Maryland Historic Trust.
- ATC# 19 sought to improve constructability of one of the more complex bridges in Contract B that will carry 6 lanes of thru traffic on MD 650 over the ICC. Maintaining traffic during construction of the bridge will be a complex phasing effort. The ATC improved the maintenance of traffic through the minimization of construction phasing and time. This is a benefit for the traveling public.
C. ICC Contract C
The project is the second segment of the Intercounty Connector (ICC), including; from west of US-29 to east of I-95 in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, Maryland; from north of Randolph Road to Briggs Chaney Road on US-29 in Montgomery County, Maryland; from north of MD 212 to Brooklyn Bridge on I-95 in Prince George's County, Maryland; and site preparation for the MdTA's planned Operations Facility between Virginia Manor Road and US-l north of MD 200 in Prince George's County, Maryland. It will consist of approximately 3.7 miles of new, controlled access, six-lane tolled MD 200 roadway, approximately 2.0 miles of US-29 Auxiliary lanes and Ramps, and approximately 2.5 miles of Auxiliary lanes, Collector-Distributor roadways and Ramps along I-95; a new major 3-level interchange with US-29 involving 10 new bridges (some of which are long flyover structures); a partial interchange at Briggs Chaney Road; and a new major interchange with I-95.
Contract C - ATC Results
|Proposer||ATCs Submitted||Approved||Submitted with Proposal|
Benefits to Contract C
Contract C includes two major freeway to freeway interchanges, work along US-29 and I-95, the crossing of one major stream, and the crossing of two or more active aggregate mining wash pond areas. The RFP encouraged bidders to use ATCs in the wash pond/ICC-I-95 interchange area of this Contract. ATCs for Contract C fell into one of three general categories:
- Modifications to the proposed ICC/US-29 interchange
- Modifications to the proposed ICC/I-95 interchange and crossing of the wash ponds, or
- Site specific or global (bridge pier, noise wall foundation, etc.)
ICC/US-29 Interchange ATCs
ATCs received at US-29 generally dealt with ways to avoid/minimize impacts to the existing communities and businesses, and Maintenance of Traffic during construction of the 3-level interchange to minimize disruption to a busy US-29. The environment also benefited from many of the ATCs. In particular, an existing wooded area in one quadrant of the interchange was able to be increased by tightening ramps and relocating planned storm water ponds from the edges of the interchange to the middle of the interchange.
ICC/I-95 Interchange and crossing of the wash pond ATCs
The area around this interchange is almost entirely undeveloped, unlike the ICC/US-29 interchange area, with all four quadrants located within a large aggregate mined area. ATCs at I-95 generally proposed replacing long bridges over the wash ponds with at grade roads on improved soils (surcharged fills, soil mixing, etc.), eliminating over 300,000 s.f. of bridge deck from the Request for Proposal plans. These ATCs also included ideas to eliminate the need to relocate an existing electric transmission main crossed by the ICC, near the lines sag midpoint. The ATCs also simplified horizontal alignment of the interchange, relocated SB I-95 to the median of I-95 to avoid impacts to a permitted wash pond dam and bog downstream of the dam, and suggested interim or staged I-95 work using auxiliary lanes versus Collector-Distributor lanes when possible. Lastly, many of the planned storm water ponds were relocated from the edges of the interchange or outside of the ICC to the middle of the interchange, eliminating impacts to existing streams, tributaries and wetlands in the area, an all ponds within wash pond areas.
Site Specific or Global ATCs
Some of the more site specific or globally requested ATCs for Contract C included:
- Use of a different than specified H-pile, and
- Use of retaining wall adjacent to a shoulder in cut areas, to minimize grading adjacent to parks or forested areas.
As the largest dollar value of construction contracts ever procured by the Administration, the competitive sealed proposal procurement process (Best-Value Design Build) was carefully structured to both fully comply with all Federal and State procurement regulations and tap into the creative talents of some of the best engineers and contractors in the U.S. Use of ATCS was an integral component of that process. Over the past three years and procurement of approximately $1.5 billion in design-build contracts, the Administration has received numerous benefits from using the ATC process. SHA believes that these compelling benefits included not only permitting flexibility and innovation from the design-build teams, but they have also allowed opportunities for cost saving measures in a very complex and expensive program, in addition to reductions in environmental impacts on a highly sensitive project. Seven short listed design build firms competed for three contracts and submitted 133 ATCs. We did not receive any complaints regarding the ATC process and specifications used on these three contracts from the seven short listed forms. The ATC process and specifications used by SHA allowed for fair and open competition and ensured that all proposes were competing for the same project.
Section 3.0 Alternative Technical Concept Reviews
3.1 Alternative Technical Concepts
The Administration has chosen to use the alternative technical concept (ATC) process set forth in this Section 3.0 to allow innovation and flexibility to be incorporated into the Proposals and considered in making the selection decision, and to avoid delays and potential conflicts in the design associated with deferring of technical concept reviews to the post-award period, and ultimately to obtain the best value for the public.
The ATC process allows Proposers to submit for pre-approval proposed alternatives to the requirements of Part 3 - Design Requirements and Performance Specifications of the Contract Documents and design solutions included in the Directive Plans of Part 6 - Request for Proposals Plans of the Contract Documents. The Administration will not approve any ATC that entails a deviation from the requirements of the as-issued Contract Documents, unless the Administration determines, in its sole discretion, that the proposed end product based on the deviation is equal to or better than the end product absent the deviation and is permitted by the Project Environmental Approvals. Proposers should refer to Section 4.0 of Appendix A to the Agreement (Part l) with respect to any ATC affecting the Basic Project Configuration. Any ATC that has been pre-approved may be included in the Proposal, subject to the conditions set forth herein.
The ATC process may be used to allow a Proposer to submit technical concepts for review by the Administration to determine if those technical concepts are consistent with the requirements of the RFP documents. The ATC submittal should clearly stipulate this reason for the review.
3.2 Submittal and Review of ATCs
The Proposer may submit ATCs for review to the Administration until the date identified in ITP Section 1.6.1. All ATCs shall be submitted in writing to the Procurement Officer at the address identified in ITP Section 4.2(A), with a cover letter clearly identifying the submittal as a request for review of an ATC under this ITP. If the Proposer does not clearly designate its submittal as an ATC, the submission will not be treated as an ATC by the Administration.
The Administration will review each ATC submitted. If an ATC is summarily approved or not approved, the Administration's comments will inform the Proposer that its technical concept appears to be generally acceptable, or the Administration will identify areas in which the approach appears to be incompatible with the Project requirements. If the Administration needs more information to determine whether or not the ATC will be approved or not approved, the Administration will submit written questions to the Proposer and/or request a one-on-one meeting in order to better understand the details of the ATC. The Administration may conditionally approve an ATC based on required revisions to a portion or portions of the ATC.
If an ATC is not approved or conditionally approved and the Proposer feels that the non-approval or the conditions for approval were due to an incorrect conclusion on the part of the Administration, it may re-submit the ATC for one additional review to the Procurement Officer at the address identified in ITP Section 4.2(A). If a re-submittal is made, it shall be accompanied by a cover letter clearly identifying such submission as an ATC submitted for an additional review.
The Proposer shall advise the Administration in its ATC if it believes a one-on-one meeting is appropriate.
The Administration will return its approval, non-approval, conditional approval, or additional questions pertaining to any specific ATC no later than two weeks after receipt of that ATC. If the Proposer does not receive a return response from the Administration within two weeks of the Administration's receipt of the ATC, the Proposer shall presume that the Administration has rejected the ATC.
3.3 Contents of ATC Submittal
Each ATC submittal shall include five copies and shall include the following:
- Description: A detailed description and schematic drawings of the configuration of the ATC or other appropriate descriptive information (including, if appropriate, product details (i.e. specifications, construction tolerances, special provisions), and a traffic operational analysis);
- Usage: Where and how the ATC would be used on the Project;
- Deviations: References to any requirements of the RFP Documents or to any elements of the Contract Documents that are inconsistent with the proposed ATC, an explanation of the nature of the proposed deviation and a request for approval of such deviations or a determination that the ATC is consistent with the requirements of the RFP Documents;
- Analysis: An analysis justifying use of the ATC and why the deviations from the requirements of the RFP Documents should be allowed;
- Impacts: Discussion of potential impacts on vehicular traffic, environmental impacts (favorable and unfavorable) identified on appropriate environmental documents (especially with regard to the impacts and commitments of the EIS and ROD), community impact, safety and life-cycle Project and infrastructure costs (including impacts on the cost of repair and maintenance);
- History: A detailed description of other projects where the ATC has been used under comparable circumstances, the success of such usage, and names and telephone numbers of project owners that can confirm such statements;
- Risks: A description of added risks to the Administration and other Persons associated with implementing the ATC;
- Costs: An estimate of the ATC implementation costs to the Administration, the Design-Builder and other Persons; and
- Price: An estimate of the impact of the ATC on the Proposal Price.
3.4 Determination by the Administration
The Administration will make one of the following determinations with respect to each properly submitted ATC:
- The ATC is approved.
- The ATC is not approved.
- The ATC is not approved in its present form, but is approved subject to satisfaction, in the Administration's sole judgment, of specified conditions.
- The submittal does not qualify as an ATC but may be included in the Proposal without an ATC (i.e., the concept complies with the RFP requirements).
- The submittal does not qualify as an ATC and may not be included in the Proposal.
- Decision on the ATC is pending receipt of additional information and/or one-on-one meeting.
Approval of an ATC will constitute a change in the specific requirements of the Contract Documents associated with the approved ATC and for that specific Proposer. Should the Design-Builder be unable to obtain required approvals for any ATC incorporated into the Contract Documents, or if the concept otherwise proves to be infeasible, the Design-Builder will be required to conform to the original RFP requirements. See DB CP-4.03.1(h). Each Proposer, by submittal of its Proposal, acknowledges that the opportunity to submit ATCs was offered to all Proposers, and waives any right to object to the Administration's determinations regarding acceptability of ATCs.
3.5 Incorporation into Proposal
Proposer may incorporate zero, one or more pre-approved ATCs into its Proposal, including conditionally approved ATCs. If the Administration responded to an ATC by identifying conditions to approval, Proposer may not incorporate such ATC into the Proposal unless all conditions have been met. Copies of the Administration's ATC approval letters for each incorporated ATC shall be included in the Proposal as specified in Appendix A. Proposals with or without ATCs will be evaluated against the same technical evaluation factors, and the inclusion of an ATC, including an ATC that provides technical enhancements, may or may not receive a higher technical rating.
The Proposal Price should reflect any incorporated ATCs. Except for incorporating approved ATCs, the Proposal may not otherwise contain exceptions to or deviations from the requirements of the RFP Documents.
ATCs properly submitted by a Proposer and all subsequent communications regarding its ATCs will be considered confidential. If a Proposer wishes to make any announcement or disclosure to third parties concerning any ATC, it shall first notify the Administration in writing of its intent to take such action, including details as to date and participants, and obtain the Administration's prior approval to do so.
Office of Program Administration