Project managers Robert Lynch of KCI Technologies Inc. (left) and Jeff Robert of the Maryland State Highway Administration worked closely with residents to transform the 1200-foot-long College Creek Bridge into an architectural gateway to state capital Annapolis, Md. To read more about this project, turn to page 30. Photo: David Holloway / Getty Images

A little more than half of respondents also said they must get three or four bids, while 16% indicated that they must get five or more.

Meeting Tight Deadlines

Project-delivery methods are becoming increasingly creative in an attempt to shave time from completion dates.

Though not everyone's convinced of its effectiveness, design-build is becoming increasingly popular. Since it requires a contract with just one firm, it eases the administrative and oversight burden associated with writing, awarding, and managing a design/engineering and a construction contract.

Another approach is to award dual contracts. Read about how an Arkansas dam construction schedule was cut in half in "Life in the Fast Lane".

Regardless of the approach, a well-written request for proposal remains key to preventing delays, cost overruns, and other unpleasant surprises. C. Ron Johnson, PE, assistant city engineer for Logan, Utah (see page 40), suggests being as specific as possible—about goals, budget, limitations—so proposals most closely meet requirements.

Bud Morgan, PE, a Virginia DOTengineer who worked on the department's first design-build project (see Ahead of the Curve), suggests asking for information that's important to the success of the project and use that to differentiate proposers.

Because time is so critical on design-build contracts, the department may allow the contractor to receive an early-completion bonus if it meets or beats the substantial completion deadline: The project isn't fully completed, but is ready for the public to have full and unrestricted use and benefit of the project from an operational and safety standpoint. The contractor then has another 60 days to fully complete the project.

Get what you need, not just what you can afford

Tired of letting work to the lowest bidder, wondering if quality is being sacrificed for cost?

Consider using qualification-based selection (QBS). QBS enables owners to base selections on qualifications and competence rather than price. The concept should fly in your community. In 1972 Congress passed the Brooks Act, which requires the selection of architects and engineers on the basis of their qualifications, subject to the negotiation of fair compensation for services.

For more information, pick up the 2006 version of APWA Red Book on Qualifications-Based Selection from the American Public Works Association (

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