ITD introduces new concept in project bidding
ITD will embark this summer on an experimental way of awarding highway contracts – a method that has the potential to save the Idaho taxpayers and the department money and time while making the bidding process more efficient.
It’s called “Fixed Price/Best Value” contracting – a form of alternative contracting requiring an approved Special Experimental Projects (SEP) No. 14 work plan by FHWA. It will be used first on an Idaho 21 bridge rehabilitation project in District 3 this summer. Potential contractors can choose from a group of Idaho Highway 21 bridge deck rehabilitation projects; only one of the rehabilitation projects is mandatory for completion – the Boise River Bridge near Diversion Dam. Eight other bridges crossing on Mores Creek and one at Chapman Creek are available as options for bidders.
Contractors will bid the maximum amount of bridge deck rehabilitations they can accomplish within a fixed budget. The contract will then be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder, defined as the bidder providing the lowest price per square yard of deck rehab. Each bidder also is asked to specify how long it would take to do the work; the low bidder will be held to that time requirement and it will be used as a “tiebreaker,” if needed, in awarding the contract.
If it proves to be successful, ITD could then use the strategy on other projects. Although it would be used primarily to save time and/or money on highway projects, it potentially could be used for other applications, such as purchasing contracts.
Loren Thomas, ITD’s assistant chief engineer/development, called the District 3 Idaho 21 bridge rehab project the “trainer project,” and said the department would “be rolling this statewide on lots of different projects.”
Regardless of the types of projects this method is applied to in the future, ITD will continue to partner with FHWA for input and approvals, said Monica Crider, assistant roadway design engineer. “They were instrumental in making the utilization of this alternative contracting method a reality for ITD.”
Crider added that an evaluation report to FHWA following the project will be the key to determining future use. Two critical metrics will be used to validate the method – the number of bidders compared to the usual bidding format, and how many bridge rehabs were done compared with how many could be done using the traditional method.
The Idaho 21 bridge deck rehab project, Crider said, was chosen because the scope of the repairs was consistent – the concrete bridge decks will be shot-blasted with high-pressure water and vacuumed to clean and remove loose material before an epoxy-and-aggregate overlay is applied, followed by a waterproofing seal applied to bridge parapets.
“This project’s scope has little to no anticipated variances and very little risk for unforeseen issues,” Crider explained.
“It is an exciting opportunity. As with anything new, there will be some things to iron out along the way, but this method provides ITD the opportunity to maximize current funding through innovation.”
As with any highway construction project, potential contractors will consider many different construction aspects, such as equipment mobilization, traffic control set up and maintenance, location of suppliers/materials, and other factors. when bidding on the project.
The process really can capitalize on a contractor’s competitive advantages … which in turn, allows ITD to capitalize.
Bids are scheduled to be opened June 22.