|Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations|
|Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Focus > September 2005 > Value Engineering 2005: Best Practices Take Center Stage|
|September 2005||Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-05-030|
Value Engineering 2005: Best Practices Take Center Stage
Value engineering (VE) best practices and lessons learned took center stage during the biennial 2005 VE Conference, held from July 20-22, 2005, in San Antonio, Texas. Sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the 3-day conference featured new ideas, methods, and case studies for experienced practitioners, as well as the basic foundation for those just starting to use VE.
"Our objective is to reach out to the States and other public organizations and provide guidance on how to run their VE programs," says Ken Smith of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and outgoing chair of the AASHTO VE Technical Committee. According to Smith, 120 of the 160 participants were first-time attendees at the conference. Approximately 40 different States were represented, as well as Canada, Puerto Rico, and Greece.
VE is a process that reexamines a transportation project's design plan, so as to improve the design's safety, quality, and functionality, while also reducing the cost. The VE process can also shorten project times, encourage innovation, lower life-cycle costs, and improve quality. A 1995 congressional regulation mandates the use of VE on all Federal-aid highway projects of $25 million or more. Prior to 1995, VE was done on a voluntary basis. In fiscal year 2004, 324 VE studies were conducted by transportation departments nationwide, resulting in savings of more than $1.4 billion.
Conference sessions featured three tracks. The first track, case studies, presented examples demonstrating how VE has been used on specific projects. The second, VE programs, included presentations on how State transportation agencies are managing their VE programs, and looked at how VE can be used with such strategies as design-build and context sensitive solutions. The advanced tools and techniques track, meanwhile, looked at how VE can be a valuable tool for project management, risk assessment, and other processes, and provided details on such topics as selecting VE teams.
According to conference chair Susan McClain of TxDOT, two case studies in particular generated great interest from conference attendees. The first study, presented by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LA DOTD), proposed improvements to U.S. 190, a route linking suburban St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, to the New Orleans metro area. The $40.4 million project will include work on two different bridges, various intersections, pavements, driveways, and a bike tunnel. A VE study recommended utilizing shorter bridge spans and revising plans for some of the intersections, among other improvements. "The VE team came up with 10 solid recommendations that were all implemented, reflecting $11.4 million in savings," says Richard Savoie of LA DOTD.
The second case study looked at the proposed reconstruction and widening of 11 km (7 mi) of I-94 through downtown Detroit. According to Win Stebbins of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the project proposes expanding the 1950s-era highway to eight lanes, including adding a two-lane service road on both sides of the highway. The expansion would fall nearly within the existing right-of-way. The VE study reduced the $800 million construction budget by a net $20 million. This takes into account $80 million in recommended savings, including such measures as shortening pedestrian bridges to only span the freeway and eliminating the use of temporary steel sheeting, and $60 million in recommended additional spending on such measures as improving geometrics and drainage and estimating more accurately the cost of retaining walls. "The VE study confirmed the concept and cost, and showed us how to spend wiser," says Stebbins.
The conference also featured the presentation of the FHWA and AASHTO awards for VE achievements during the past 2 years. The 2005 FHWA Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Value Engineering recognized the overall effectiveness and efficiency of State transportation departments' VE programs. Utah won for Category I programs totaling up to $49 million; West Virginia was honored in Category II for programs ranging from $50 million to $99 million; Louisiana won for Category III programs ranging from $100 to $499 million; and California was recognized for Category IV programs totaling $500 million or more (see sidebar, page 2). The AASHTO awards categories included Improved Process, Project Delivery, Construction, and Pre-Construction Engineering (see sidebar, this page).
The next VE conference will be held in Seattle, Washington, in 2007.
For more information on the conference, contact Ken Smith at WSDOT, 360-705-7233 (email: email@example.com), or Susan McClain at TxDOT, 903-799-1311 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Information is also available on the conference Web site at tti.tamu.edu/conferences/vec. To learn more about the Louisiana VE study, contact Richard Savoie at LA DOTD, 225-379-1384 (email: email@example.com). For details on Michigan's I-94 study, contact Win Stebbins at MDOT, 517-373-2246 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). For more information on VE in general, contact Donald Jackson at FHWA, 202-366-4630 (email: email@example.com).
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration