The Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) Board of Directors on Thursday awarded two contracts totaling more than $1.6 billion for approximately 8 miles of the $2.8 billion Lynnwood Link Extension light-rail project in Seattle. The board voted unanimously to give a $789.4 million contract to a joint venture comprised of Stacy and Witbeck, Kiewit and Hoffman Construction (SKH) and the other, worth $817 million, to Skanska Constructors L300, a joint venture of Skanska USA Civil West California District and Skanska USA Buildings.
The Skanska contract, which also incorporates a contingency of $38.9 million, includes construction of more than 2 miles of elevated guideway, almost 1.5 miles of at-grade retained cut/fill guideway, two stations, a garage, track and associated infrastructure. The JV had already performed preconstruction services ($60.9 million) while negotiating a maximum allowable construction cost (MACC) for its segment of the project, bringing its total contract amount with Sound Transit to approximately $878 million.
SKH's contract incorporates a contingency of $37.6 million and includes construction of approximately 1.5 miles of elevated guideway, three miles of at-grade retained cut/fill guideway, two stations, two parking garages, track and associated infrastructure. SKH, like Skanska, had been brought on to provide preconstruction work ($94.3 million) and negotiated a MACC as well. The latest award brings the JV's total contracted amount for its portion of the Lynnwood project thus far to $883.8 million.
Both contracts, according to staff reports, will use the general contractor/construction manager (GC/CM) alternate public works project delivery method. A GC/CM delivery for Sound Transit and other public projects in Washington state is chosen early on and helps the owner agency with the design process and then manages construction, with all parties benefiting from collaboration. This delivery is also known as Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) because the contractor takes on part of the project's risk.
The City of Seattle's Department of Finance and Administrative Services outlined some benefits for agencies considering using the GC/CM delivery method, and those are:
- Better budget control, time savings and fewer change orders because parties discuss and review all elements from the design process forward
- Balanced risk between the owner and contractor
- A more realistic schedule
- More minority and disadvantaged contractor opportunities
- Design elements and their costs can be modified to meet the final budget
However, there are some risks, the city said, for those new to the method and for those who are not used to working as part of a team, and it is not a good fit for every project, leaving room for other delivery methods like design-bid-build.