Bidding's begun on the first project in a pilot program designed to encourage contractors to use more environmentally conscious construction methods.

The Missouri DOT (MoDOT) has identified and given each method, such as recycling pavement, a “green credit” value and will provide each contractor with a “green credit” goal. Contractors that meet their goal get a $5,000 bonus. If they surpass it by five credits, they'll receive $10,000; 10 extra credits are good for $15,000.

MoDOT Resident Engineer Niall Jansson, who's spearheading the initiative, says it's a way of “looking at what should be improved upon.”

In addition to adding an auxiliary street and rehabilitating a bridge, the three-tier pilot project involves building a “diverging diamond” interchange that uses a two-signal rather than four-signal phase, making Missouri the first state to implement this type of interchange. The department's request for proposals includes a LEED-based provision that obligates the winning contractor to use several earth-friendly construction practices.

Once construction begins, the project must be completed within a year. “It‘ll set a standard for what is reasonably achievable by a contractor,” Jansson says. Ultimately, the goal is statewide implementation of the program.