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FY 2007 Annual Federal-aid Value Engineering Summary Report

Best Practices

The following summarizes and highlights successful practices that were provided by the States with the FY 2007 Accomplishment Report:

Effective Program Communication

Caltrans holds Annual District VE Coordinator's meetings and monthly phone conferences to communicate changes in policies as well as to share best practices and lessons learned. Caltrans has also initiated an awards program to recognize outstanding achievements of their VE Coordinators, team members and champions.

Scheduling, Coordinating and Conducting VE studies

Several states noted that identifying candidate projects for VE studies as early as the scoping stage enables proactive scheduling and the earlier completion of studies in the design process. Minnesota is currently conducting a pilot process to evaluate the size, scope, and timing of projects that would be best candidates for a successful VE study.

Several states pointed to the composition of the VE study team as being crucial to the effectiveness of the VE Program. New Hampshire noted that having both state and federal representatives participating on the VE Team during each study is very beneficial as it provides both hands-on training and general oversight for the VE study and process. Other states, including Minnesota and Wisconsin, identified the use of certified SAVE Consultants as VE study facilitators to ensure a high standard for VE studies consistent with the profession and true to the value engineering methodology, while Arizona hires retired contractors (on grounds of recusing themselves from the letting of the project) to participate on studies of projects with potential constructability issues.

NYSDOT noted that a "portable" library of relevant reference materials, design guidelines, and standards that is sent to the VE location of the study prior to the arrival of the VE team often adds an element of efficiency to the overall study. Also the NYSDOT reports that conducting its VE studies in close proximity to the project site allows for multiple site visits by the VE team members which have proven to be beneficial on numerous occasions.

In contrast, Louisiana , for their smaller, less complex projects, substitutes the field visit with reviews of previously taken pictures and "drive-by" videos to shorten the duration of the VE study by one day. Reducing the duration of the VE studies to 2-3 days was also noted by the NCDOT as a means to best use available resources and gain stronger commitment from the identified participants. The required trade-off identified was greater up-front research and additional post-study efforts conducted by the VE Program staff.

Successful VE Studies

Multiple Studies for a Project Corridor: The VE analysis for the Interstate 95 Corridor in Palm Beach County, Florida, encompassed several workshop sessions rather than one session at the conclusion of preliminary engineering. This process was used to refine the concepts and alternatives for the project and to gain early consensus on the project functions with the goals of the maintaining consistency with the Locally Preferred Alternatives; minimizing overall project impacts, maintaining the project schedule; and developing a project that can be implemented. The schedule for the VE sessions was established according to the key milestones of the project. This approach led the project design team to work closely with the VE team to develop recommendations between sessions.

Unique Stakeholder Involvement: The limits of work for the New Jersey Route 206 Bypass project extended into two municipalities, one initially supporting the project and one initially opposing the project. Representatives from both municipalities participated in the VE study, providing them the opportunity to voice their needs along with the NJDOT. Beyond leading to significant savings, this study contributed to a final project that was ultimately supported by all parties.

VE at Project Scoping: To assist the NYSDOT Regional design staff develop a best value project alternative, this VE study for the State Route 390 Project from Trolly Blvd to State Route 104 was conducted during the scoping stages of the project, prior to the identification of a preferred alternative. This study explored several alternatives, not only from the construction/life-cycle cost perspective; but from the user cost considerations and delays to the traveling public. Although no direct cost savings can be attributed to this study, the Regional staff found the benefits provided the project's decision making process to be invaluable.

Design-Build Projects: Initially, when conducting VE studies for Design-Build projects, the NCDOT focused solely on the Request for Proposal (RFP) document (including scopes). Rather than generating a series of recommendations geared towards improving the project, these studies functioned more as the document "wordsmithing" sessions. In 2007, the NCDOT shifted the focus of these studies to a more traditional Value Engineering approach. Design-Build studies now begin with a review of the project by the Design-Build project engineer, followed by a review of the public hearing map and identification of any problem areas. This review leads to a list of issues/items that forms the basis for discussion of the study team to generate new ideas for recommendations for the Design-Build project. A "top level" review of the scopes of work is also performed in order to identify unnecessary or overly restrictive requirements in the scope of work's language. The NCDOT continues to refine their VE process for Design-Build projects but notes that the change in approach has already led to the generation of more implementable recommendations.

Focus on Specific Project Functions: The main issues of concern during the VE study for the Interstate 610/U.S. Route 290 Interchange project in Texas were Traffic Control, Accessibility to Ramps, ROW and Utilities. The most creative recommendation was to use the U.S. Route 290 to I-10 direct connector for U.S. Route 290 main lanes during construction, thereby minimizing traffic control by 2-4 phases. The team recommended a modification to the design to more effectively purchase property needed for storm water detention use. The team also recommended early meetings to coordinate the major impacts of four utilities to keep them apprised and obtain an estimated timeframe for their relocation work to be completed.

Implementation of Recommendations

Several states emphasized the attempts to incorporate past VE alternatives into current and future designs as "best practices." Specifically, Louisiana indicated that recurring VE recommendations are tracked to determine if their project development policy should be revised to formally incorporate these recommendations into their process. Louisiana also noted that approved recommendations are reviewed after construction is completed to determine the actual cost avoidance or added value.

Two states described strategies designed to improve the recommendation review and decision making processes. In order to develop a more thorough final report, the NCDOT instituted a two-step reporting process: an interim report that is completed soon after the study; and a final report detailing the brainstormed ideas, revised ideas, final recommendations and their disposition. The stage reporting process also provides natural encouragement to follow up with recommendation results and implementation, which, in turn, leads to more accurate records and reporting. For New Mexico's less complex projects, the VE recommendations presentation and disposition session before their "Decision Panel" have been consolidated to occur at the same meeting, shortening the overall approval process by approximately 6 weeks.

Integration of VE with Other Analysis Techniques

In addition to studies conducted for the Federal-Aid Highway Program, Caltrans utilizes the VE techniques to recently analyze improvements proposed for their "Utilities Database" and "Purpose and Need" processes. Caltrans also used VE to study a series of Safety Rest Area projects that had come in over estimated budgets to develop alternative ways to reduce construction cost while maintaining or improving project quality.

PennDOT has instituted a Value Engineering Accelerated Construction Technology Transfer (VE/ACTT) process for the purpose of evaluating major projects to assure the right project is designed for the best value and to ensure all issues regarding constructability are identified and addressed in design.

The NJDOT has incorporated a "Smart Solutions" approach into their VE Program. The traditional VE approach limits cost savings opportunities to alternatives that provide equal or better products. The additional Smart Solutions approach provides for savings opportunities for alternatives that provide an equal or better value. This means that the alternative may not be an equal product, but based on the benefit to cost ratio, it is a more appropriate investment.

The NCDOT combined their External Constructability Review process with a VE study for a large bridge repair project that was scheduled for letting with a very limited scope of work. This approach allowed not only the identification of problem areas included in the proposed work, but also provided external input by the contracting industry for recommendations that could substantially reduce costs and construction time for the project.

Finally, the WSDOT noted the successful combination of VE studies with a Cost Risk Assessment (CRA) on three combined CRA/VE studies. Since both the VE and CRA processes have several similar tasks and require similar teams, there are advantages both in cost savings and speculation improvements by combining the two processes.

Updated: 06/27/2017
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