Alternative Delivery Methodologies for Mega-projects: The Increasing Use of EIC
Posted in Design-Build

A client recently asked our firm about delivery methodologies commonly used for mega-projects.  A recent ENR article highlights this trend towards use of alternative delivery methods, including design-build, contractor at risk and PPPs.

According to the article, the US Army Corps of Engineers is using design-build and construction management at risk (which the Army Corps calls Early Contractor Involvement (ECI)) on many projects to speed up delivery of the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System, including the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway West Closure Complex (GIWWCC).

The GIWWCC project was the New Orleans District’s first ECI contract. By using ECI for this key project, our design teams and GIC are able to proceed in construction of some features, while actively participating in and providing pre-construction design services of other features, says Colonel Alvin Lee, the Corps New Orleans District commander.

In April, Gulf Intracoastal Constructors (GIC), a joint venture of Omaha-based Kiewit Corp. and Traylor Bros. Inc. of Evansville, Ind., was awarded the $6.97-million base portion of the ECI contract for pre-construction services and pile load tests. That allowed the contractor to begin design and construction sequencing even before being awarded the $854.8 million construction portion of the contract June 26 and the pump portion May 28—which has resulted in a much faster delivery schedule than would have been the case had they used design-bid-build.

According to Susan Maclay, president of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority West, local stakeholders are concerned about the uncertainty associated with use of alternative delivery, but having protection in place by June 1, 2011, is a welcome trade-off. We applaud the Corps for thinking 'outside of the box’ to allow the contractor to use ECI, to design while delivering, Maclay says.

While the Corps is now utilizing ECI to help protect New Orleans from future hurricanes, it is not the first project sponsor to use the approach. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LA DOTD) used a similar approach on the Twin Spans repair project to expedite the re-opening of I-10 following Hurricane Katrina. Subsequently, LA DOTD has used a design build approach for the John James Audubon Bridge across the Mississippi River and the I-12 widening Project and is currently in the process of procuring design build contractors for the I-10 Widening Project and the US 90 Interchange @ LA 85.

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