ITD has introduced a new process to simplify design of construction projects to achieve maximum benefit for its financial investment. Director Pam Lowe outlined her vision for Practical Design in a detailed memo to district engineers last week, calling for designs that maintain project quality and integrity, but at the same time reduce costs.
“The concept of Practical Design supports ITD’s long history and culture that emphasizes innovative, cost-effective solutions,” Lowe said in introducing the new process. “Implementing this initiative will help us renew our focus on efficient solutions while at the same time challenge our processes.
“Practical Design is one of the efficiency measures that we are implementing to stretch taxpayer dollars as far as possible during this era of flat revenue. By customizing construction projects to fit specific needs through Practical Design, money will be saved to fund additional projects.”
The Practical Design concept was introduced to ITD engineers in April at the annual Project Development Conference in Boise. Kevin Keith, Missouri Department of Transportation, provided a session on how his department realized cost savings through a more basic approach to project design.
He returned to Idaho in May to elaborate on Missouri’s use of Practical Design, speaking to about 50 ITD engineers and staff members. The challenge, Keith explained, is to do more with less but maintain quality throughout the process. MDOT concentrates on building a great “system” over “great” projects.
“We are moving from managing means and methods to performance specifications,” he explained. “This has been a real change in culture.”
But it has paid off.
By radically controlling costs, maximizing competition and seeking innovation at every opportunity, MODOT has moved perception of the condition of its roads from 39 percent positive to 74 percent positive in two years. MODOT is responsible for about 32,000 miles of interstate and state highways and is ranked 47th in revenue per mile to deal with the system.
“The public loves it,” he said. “Seventy-nine percent of news editorials are positive.”
The decision to build “Chevys” instead of “Cadillacs” has given MODOT districts more money to tackle more projects. “Sometimes good enough is better than best,” he said.
Lowe said the goal for ITD’s application of Practical Design is for districts to cut at least 10 percent of the design expenses and reinvest the savings on new construction projects within the respective districts.
Districts are to begin moving toward the use of Practical Design immediately; specific plans for implementing Practical Design are due Sept. 1.
See the Practical Design initiative