Better Roads Staff
“Instead of coming in with plans already in place, ODOT asked us to involve the community,” Parrish notes, adding that it has worked well. “The communities here have a love-hate relationship with construction. This really shows up in our citizen groups. The most unique feature of advancing this project is the citizen group ODOT put together to help guide the bridge design development and contribute and comment on the aesthetics of the structure.”
The bridge is in a prominent place in the community, so the aesthetics are important. In addition to serving as the gateway to Eugene-Springfield, the bridge bisects one of the largest parks in the area. Artistic features on and around the bridge are being imprinted into the concrete by a local design team.
In the beginning
In 2001, ODOT began inspecting bridges for cracks. Bridge inspection reports in 2002 showed shear cracks growing quicker than expected throughout the reinforced concrete beams supporting the original bridge deck. This raised concerns that the bridge would not stand up to traffic unless truck weight restrictions were imposed, or a detour route could be provided. Recognizing the lengthy public process required to design and permit the permanent replacement structure, ODOT designed a detour bridge to carry I-5 traffic until the new structure was in place.
The detour bridge was designed, permitted, and advertised under an “A+B” contract method that considered the construction schedule as well as the contract amount to determine the “best value” for award. Hamilton Construction won the award in September 2003, and opened the bridge to traffic less than a year later.
The original bridge — the decommissioned bridge — couldn’t support the traffic it was carrying and needed to be taken out of service. ODOT immediately realized there was a problem: they either needed to build a replacement bridge or they would have to detour trucks off Interstate 5 and send them right through downtown Eugene on old Highway 99. “ODOT raced to quickly design a replacement bridge,” Parrish says. “It had to come up with the simplest bridge to design and construct to get it done quickly. There was not a lot of time for public input, and the only access for construction to it was through the Alton Baker Park natural area.”
Having the public on its side has made a big difference, Parrish notes, especially when working to obtain a permit. This can often be a long, tedious process, but in an environmentally-sensitive area it’s even more of a slippery slope. To add more traction to this slope, ODOT developed its programmatic permitting process to speed environmental approvals. ODOT met with all the regulatory agencies that are involved in the bridge rebuilding process and proposed that they jointly develop a set of standards that — if complied with — would enable the agency to secure a permit in a timely manner. “With these permits, whoever is submitting for them must have definitive information on how a project will be built,” Parrish says. “The whole idea is to minimize the impact by putting as little material in the river as possible. If the project was designed as a design-bid-build project, you’d either have to pay a contractor to comply with the designer’s assumed construction methods, or delay the project until the permit could be modified to comply with the contractor’s construction methods.”
Hamilton Construction helped ODOT and their designer, OBEC Consulting Engineers, put together a permit application denoting exactly how the bridge was going to be built, including temporary work systems and contracts. “With the decommissioned bridge being a box girder, we have to collect 100 percent of the rubble and debris on our containment,” Parrish says. “Consequently, we developed a demolition plan that utilizes a containment platform that allows us to run equipment, and to collect and support all the concrete rubble during the demolition process. But all of this planning was done very early in the process to find the best balance between our preferred construction methods and the requirements of the regulatory agencies. This should allow us to deal with fewer variances.”
Using a CM/GC approach enables construction of temporary work, such as site preparation, access roads, and demolition work, to start before completion of the final bridge design. “This was done as part of the process to come up with pricing,” Parrish says. “Early work packages enable us to identify portions of a project that we can isolate out as a unique section to determine the scope clearly and definitively. The CM/GC delivery method allows us to start work on these early work packages right away — and to work on them concurrently instead of consecutively.”
In good times and in bad
However, with all good things oftentimes challenges do arise. Despite the advantages, some of the details and other minutiae proved to be challenging.
“We have struggled with the intricacies of the contract,” Parrish says. “Agencies aren’t used to seeing indirect costs.”
With the CM/GC approach, all cost negotiations are done on an open book basis. “That means once we start negotiations or are working through estimates, we show material quotes, subcontractor quotes, our production rates, etcetera,” Parrish continues. “Normally, an agency never sees this. It just sees the bid price, which has costs, markups, contingencies, etcetera. Agencies are seeing an incredible amount of details. If they haven’t worked as a contract, they don’t know how estimates are put together.”
Parrish advises that agencies considering the CM/GC approach be very clear with what they want to see and how projects are broken down. “There are general conditions components — onsite trailers, risks, etcetera,” Parrish says.
He adds that the real message that should go out is that it’s important for agencies to understand components of a contractor’s price – i.e. what goes into an estimate. “These components are cost of work, labor, material and equipment costs, general conditions cost, risk cost, and profile or overhead for the contractor,” Parrish points out. “The contractor’s profits are what pay the taxes to support the agency. The CM/GC is where our profit is to reside.” v
Kevin Parrish, project manager with Hamilton Construction, the construction manager/general contractor on the Interstate 5
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