Making the Business Case for Design-Build

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Making the Business Case for Design-Build

by Geoffrey Corey | March 2, 2015

A recent Wall Street Journal article by Vipal Monga (Feb. 24, 2015), “Neglected Roads and Bridges Take Toll on U.S. Economy,” expertly discussed how neglecting much-needed infrastructure improvements can hurt the economy just as much as investment can help it. “Transport is one of the weakest links in the corporate supply chain,” Monga explained. “Mile after mile, America’s crumbling infrastructure adds to the cost of moving parts, equipment and inventory across the country.” In other words, time is money, and this is where design-build becomes an important part of the solution.

Businesses in America rely heavily on our country’s infrastructure. From shipping goods, to traveling to and from business meetings, America’s state-of-the-art infrastructure system has been fundamental to U.S. economic growth for decades. As Congress seeks to renew funding for the Highway Federal Trust Fund, and fights about how to pay for it, DBIA encourages greater use of design-build project delivery as part of the solution.

One of the top reasons project owners choose to use design-build is to meet or exceed project schedule. Following the tragic collapse of the I-35W Bridge, the Minnesota DOT employed design-build to safely complete a new 10-lane interstate in less than a year. And, when the Utah DOT turned to design-build to complete the massive I-15 Corridor Expansion, it became the fastest billion-dollar public highway project built in the U.S. and was completed $260 million under budget.

A study from the University of Florida’s College of Engineering found design-build transportation projects are completed 36 percent faster than those done using the traditional method. The study showed this significant time savings, as well as reduced litigation and change orders, led to 11 percent lower cost as well. As Congress and state policy makers look for revenue to pay for infrastructure upkeep, they should not discount the savings that may be realized by encouraging greater use of design-build.

Thankfully, DBIA is working with Congress to maintain language from the last highway funding bill, which increased the likelihood design-build projects would receive federal support. There couldn’t be a more critical time for our federal government and state DOTs to authorize expanded design-build authority. It’s time for our government to recognize their role in growing the economy – one mile at a time.