New York State Flood Recovery Efforts Lead to Lifting of Restrictions on Design-Build
Washington, D.C. October 3, 2011
Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), praises Governor Cuomo for addressing the antiquated “Wicks Law” and taking advantage of a project-delivery method that keeps costs down while increasing speed of construction.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued an executive order suspending regulations that mandate the hiring of separate design and construction firms for road and bridge projects. The Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) and other groups had urged New York State to rescind restrictions on design-build project delivery, citing the urgent need for infrastructure repairs following severe flooding caused by Hurricane Irene.
The Governor’s office has estimated total damages of $1 billion in the state, but assessments of needed repairs are still ongoing. Lisa Washington, Executive Director of the Design-Build Institute of America, praised the Governor for lifting the ban on design-build for public projects. “Design-build reduces red tape and costs, allowing for reconstruction to occur faster. By permitting design-build on transportation projects, Governor Cuomo has eliminated a major hurdle in the reconstruction effort.”
Design-build is an integrated approach that delivers design and construction services under one contract with a single point of responsibility. Across the country, the design-build method successfully delivers schools, transportation and water infrastructure. However, design-build is currently banned on New York State-funded projects and cannot be used for infrastructure rebuilding.
“The ability of design-build project delivery to facilitate quick repair and reconstruction in the wake of disaster has been proven again and again,” Washington said, citing the repair of the Pentagon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the rebuilding of Minnesota’s I-35W Bridge after its collapse. Each of these massive construction projects was completed within one year.
New York State is grappling with an urgent need for repairs. For example, the Erie Canal — an important lifeline for tourism and commerce — has several severely damaged locks. A line of the Metro-North commuter rail outside New York City needs rebuilding and currently is operating with temporary bus lines. “Design-build helped speed recovery after Hurricane Katrina,” said Andrew Claus, Executive Director of DBIA’s Liberty Northeast Region, which includes New York State. “New York State should expand the use of design-build even further if we hope to quickly recover from the hurricane and flooding. The sewage treatment plant in Binghamton, for example, sustained millions of dollars of damage.
Until the Governor lifted the restriction on design-build for transportation projects, applying design-build to New York State infrastructure repairs was not an option even for large urgent construction projects. Construction regulations dating to the 1940s mandate that projects exceeding $500,000 or more use multiple independent prime contractors.
Yet research shows that by delivering both design and construction under a single contract, design-build delivers projects 30 percent faster and lowers overall project costs by approximately six percent. Design-build helps to streamline the construction process by reducing multiple bids and redesigns. Working with a single point of contact also decreases administrative burdens and reduce risk and litigation.
The federal government has fully embraced design-build as part of their procurement process because it is competitive in the request for proposal phase and can include selection criteria based on best value. In August, a White House Memorandum commended the Federal Highway Administration noting, “On the construction side, the agency is encouraging State use of acceleration techniques like design-build.”
Established in 1993, the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) is the only organization that defines, teaches and promotes best practices in design-build project delivery. Design-build is an integrated approach that delivers design and construction services under one contract with a single point of responsibility. Owners select design-build to achieve best value while meeting schedule, cost and quality goals. Learn more about design-build, and DBIA’s certification and other programs at www.DBIA.org.