- The Michigan DOT has chosen low bidder Oakland Corridor Partners to design, build, finance and maintain the final $1.4 billion stretch of its Interstate 75 modernization project. The group, according to Crain's Detroit Business, comprises Michigan-based Dan's Excavating (Shelby Township), Ajax Paving Industries (Troy), Jay Dee Contractors (Detroit) and CA Hull Co. (Commerce Township).
- The group will rebuild 5.5 miles of pavement, modernize the highway, overhaul 28 bridges and add a safety feature that will separate traffic between two northbound lanes. Transportation officials said the original plan was to divide the project into five segments and complete each one individually, which would have taken 10 years more than awarding the entire 5.5 miles to one group.
- The maintenance portion of the contract is for a period of 25 years, and the DOT will spread out availability payments to the consortium across 30 years, allowing the state to invest in other transportation projects simultaneously. State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle said shifting the maintenance responsibility to the group allows the state to benefit from guaranteed performance standards and pre-established prices that don't rise during the term of the contract. MDOT expects financial close on the project to happen before the end of 2018, at which time final costs could change.
State transportation departments are warming up to design-build as a way to deliver their transportation projects, because, like the I-75 modernization project in Michigan, they have discovered that handing over the entire process to a qualified design and construction group can shorten the project timeline, reduce costs and result in a higher-quality end result. Unlike the Michigan project, however, the Federal Highway Administration estimates that average schedule savings are in the neighborhood of one to two years.
Design-build regulations vary from state to state, and existing laws constrain some agencies from delivering their transportation projects on a design-build basis. According to the data maintained by the Design-Build Institute of America, for instance, Florida public and public-private entities' use of design-build is not limited for taxpayer-funded transportation projects. The Idaho DOT, however, cannot use design-build for more than 20% of its annual highway budget.
In New York, there was a push in 2017 for state lawmakers to allow the wider use of design-build, but, currently, only state university construction fund projects can use the method, as well as those performed by the Department of Transportation; Thruway Authority; Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; Department of Environmental Conservation; and the Bridge Authority through December 2021 for projects more than $10 million.