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    What types of public works projects did the AEC firm complete for your department?Although SAFETEA-LU monies did not trickle down to many city or municipal departments, road and bridge construction once again weighed in as the most projects completed. Source: PUBLIC WORKS
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    At what level did the AEC firms you hired work on public works projects?Projects completed in 2005 certainly varied in size. The largest number (29%) cost more than $1 million, while the next-most-frequent answer was less than $100,000 (13%). Source: PUBLIC WORKS

Even with rising oil prices, the devastation of hurricanes Rita and Katrina, and rising inflation rates, the level and scope of public works projects completed did not change in 2005.

Many municipalities need help completing projects, whether they're new water treatment plants, building a new bridge, or updating an urban park. According to an exclusive survey of PUBLIC WORKS readers, 92% of municipal public works departments used architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) firms to complete projects of various types last year. This number has not fluctuated much over the past two years—public works departments heavily rely on these firms to work on one or all aspects of an engineering project.

Click here to view the survey results (PDF).

Two-thirds of respondents who use AEC firms on these projects indicate that the firms had their thumb in half or more of their 2005 projects. Similar to last year's exclusive survey, respondents anticipate they will use AEC firms at about the same level this year.

Of those public works departments that do not use AEC firms, respondents broke down their responsibilities in different ways. Departments maintain public works projects (67%), plan them (62%), and operate them (55%). Most respondents in this category (62%) do not plan to use an AEC firm in the next six months for any type of work.

Survey respondents stick close to home when selecting their AEC firm; 32% use small, local firms, while 62% don't care if they're local or national. Most engineering companies have multiple offices scattered across the United States, so selecting an office nearby that is familiar with city, county, or state regulations seems most logical. Soliciting bids or requests for proposals from these firms can be a headache, though. Thirty-one percent of respondents must get three or four bids, while 29% indicated that they must get more than 10 bids.