Whitepaper: 09.03.2014

Design-Build is Delivering

TxDOT Leans on Design-Build Delivery in Texas to Deliver Added Capacity Earlier

Texas has experienced dramatic growth in recent years, so much that it has far outpaced its own ability to fund the necessary highway infrastructure. As a result, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has had to consider new ways to deliver hese important projects to ensure Texas remains atop the nation’s leaders in economic vitality, job creation and quality of life.

Several years ago, new legislation provided authority for TxDOT to use the design-build delivery method to implement highway projects. This has yielded several benefits including faster speed to market. In addition, it has also enabled the private sector to finance certain projects in the form of toll lanes, often referred to as a Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA), allowing the necessary lane capacity to be delivered years ahead of when the state would be able to fund it.

Design-build has now become the preferred method to deliver most large-scale transportation projects in Texas. In fact, TxDOT currently has more than $10 billion worth of design-build highway projects either underway or in procurement. The agency favors this method for a variety of reasons including the ability to shift much of the risk to the developer teams. Risks such as utility coordination, relocation and right-of-way acquisition are critical aspects of a transportation project’s early development that require an extensive amount of time to plan and execute. Then, once constructed, operation and maintenance of new roadways also becomes an added cost the state has to consider. However, by using design-build delivery, TxDOT has the option to defer this maintenance cost and responsibility to the design-builder for a period of years, also saving money.

The shift to design-build has required a new type of expertise and savvy from Texas’ contracting community, as most Texas-based transportation contractors have traditionally just been hard-bid road builders. Design-build requires a different mindset and skill set, including an ability to effectively manage the design process, properly evaluate added risk, and work with the owner to create a well-defined scope of work. 

And that’s where McCarthy, one of the leading design-build firms in the nation, can bring the most value. McCarthy has completed more than 200 design-build projects worth nearly $5 billion. Our processes and procedures are built around the collaborative system that design-build promotes, and McCarthy’s success can be directly linked to its ability to work hand-in-hand with owners and design partners to deliver complex projects under strict budgets and schedule constraints.  

McCarthy has been a leading heavy civil contractor in Texas since the early 1980s. For the past 35 years, the company has been building the roads, bridges and transportation infrastructure that have helped shape Texas cities — more than $2 billion worth of work. 

McCarthy has completed more than 200 design-build projects worth nearly $5 billion nationwide. Recently, TxDOT awarded McCarthy a $96.3 million design-build contract for the State Highway (SH) 71 Managed Lanes project in Austin. The project requires design and construction of 4.5 miles of one toll lane in each direction on SH 71 between Presidential Boulevard, considered the main entrance to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA), and SH 130, a toll road connecting San Antonio to Austin. The project also includes construction of a bridge over SH 130 with ramps connecting the toll lanes and SH 130, the reconstruction and realignment of the intersection at SH 71 and Farm to Market Road (FM) 973, and the widening of SH 71 from Presidential Boulevard to SH 130 to allow for three non-tolled lanes in each direction. 

Scheduled for completion in June 2016, the challenging project will require the coordination of construction work with the relocation of numerous underground service lines owned by more than a dozen different franchise utilities, as well as the need to safely maintain the existing traffic flow during construction through a heavily congested corridor.

McCarthy worked closely with its design partner LAN, Inc. to develop the most cost-effective design and construction solution and, ultimately, a winning strategy for the project. The team developed a 21-month schedule, removing three months off TxDOT’s original 24-month project timeline. This is one example of the design-build process in action. As the design-build transportation market continues to expand in Texas and across the country, owners will continue to see benefits in cost, schedule and quality as a result of this delivery method.

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