Launch Slideshow

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Opposites attract

Opposites attract

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    Source: PUBLIC WORKS

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    Source: PUBLIC WORKS

Exploring alternatives

Pierce is among a quarter of PUBLIC WORKS readers who report they haven't been able to use alternative project delivery methods. A 65% majority say they have tried at least one type (see chart).

Comments are generally more positive than negative, especially concerning design-build, construction manager/general contractor, and construction manager-at-risk. “Design-build works well with the right team,” says one reader. “We prefer construction manager-at-risk to the traditional construction manager as agent.”

But not everyone's experience has been positive. “[Design-build] has not been as productive as the design-bid process for us,” says one reader. Another respondent says the construction manager/general contractor partnership was “costly, difficult, and did not yield the quality we are used to. We probably won't pursue this again.”

In the category of “lessons learned,” Steve Gurzler, PE, water and sewer superintendent and city engineer for Glens Falls, N.Y., reflects, “Our experience with performance contracting could have gone better if we were able to approach the project more slowly, and if we had hired another engineering firm as an owner's agent to assist in implementing the process.”

Others indicate their biggest hurdles with nontraditional partnerships are in-house. “Our biggest challenge is with getting alternatives through purchasing and legal,” shares one respondent. Another says, “Job-order contracting arrangements have been very successful ... but our budget people don't like them.”

Whether or not they are popular with procurement departments, alternative project delivery methods seem to be here to stay, as cities, counties, and states negotiate the uncharted waters of the new U.S. economy — and enlist help from the private sector.

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