The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is unabashedly pushing five innovations in its latest initiative to jumpstart project delivery on the nation's highways - and states will be expected to implement them in less than two years.
The "Every Day Counts" (EDC) Innovation Initiative is designed to identify and deploy innovation aimed at shortening project delivery, enhancing the safety of the nation's roadways, and improving environmental sustainability."It takes an average of 13 years from planning to design to delivery of major highway projects. It's clear that we need to deliver projects faster," Gregory Nadeau, FHWA Deputy Administrator, told attendees during last week's APWA Congress and Exposition.
EDC implementation teams are working with governments and industry transportation groups to deploy the program, which includes accelerating use of technology and innovation, offering a toolkit to local and stage agencies for shortening project delivery.
FHWA has recognized that traditional project delivery must make way for a new project delivery method - the construction manager/general contractor (CM/GC) - which occupies the middle ground between traditional design-bid-build and design-build. "The CM/GC provides for project acceleration because the contract allows the owner and construction manager to be in contact with one another earlier in process," Nadeau said. "The owner gets more valuable information about constructability during the design process. By bringing the contractor to the table sooner, contractors can help us find paths to a more efficient approach."
The administration also plans to reduce the number of active environmental impact statements at any given time. "There's a point at which you've got to analyze the project and make a determination. (EIS) is expensive, time-consuming, and often disruptive to the community. We owe residents to get to a rapid conclusion," Nadeau said, adding that the initiative "is about taking technology that's proven, that's market-ready, getting it off the shelf, and putting it into widespread use."
Following are five technologies and innovations highlighted in the initiative:
"EDC is one way to the make case for more funding at local and state levels," added Nadeau, who admitted that the initiative has yet to be funded. "I can't even begin to try to predict how and what vehicle will address the funding aspect, but the current highway reauthorization expires in December, so there's a lot of heavy lifting that Congress is well aware it has to address by the end of the year," he said.
This fall FHWA will hold 10 regional initiative summits with key contractors and state safety engineers. Meanwhile FHWA has identified one person in each of its division offices as an EDC coordinator. So far, 45 state DOTs have identified an EDC coordinator as well.
"By the end of the year expect 1,000 state and local transportation officials and contractors to have been briefed and trained on this initiative," Nadeau told attendees. "At our core we're a regulatory, compliance oversight agency, but this is the area where we can be innovative. We want our division personnel to be on the front lines, so we're preparing our own organization to do that."