Lessons learned from the selection of project delivery methods in highway projects : a case from the Texas Department of Transportation




Demetracopoulou, Vassiliki A.

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The selection of a project delivery method is a complex decision that can greatly affect the project outcome. Multiple methodologies have been developed to facilitate the selection for private entities as well as for public entities, like State Highway Agencies. The elements examined during the selection process include project characteristics, desired goals, institutional constraints, and the proper risk allocation. Within the highway sector, the principal choice of delivery method is between Design-Bid-Build, Design-Build, and Construction Manager/ General Contractor. In Texas, only the Design-Bid-Build and Design-Build methods are legislatively available. To ensure the effectiveness of the project delivery method selection, many State Highway Agencies have developed decision-making tools/ methodologies. Use of these tools allows the empirical investigation to refine our understanding of the factors that guide selection and their potential interactions. In particular, this study utilizes data from a quantitative tool developed for the Texas Department of Transportation. Since 2014, 57 projects have been evaluated by the tool, providing a large dataset for analysis. Specific findings identify the most impactful decision elements for each delivery method selection, such as site conditions and utility relocations for Design-Bid-Build and opportunity for innovation for Design-Build. Among the project characteristics, those most commonly selected as applicable include early project completion, site conditions, designer-contractor integration, and contractor better at handling third-party issues. Correlations measured among applicability of characteristics find some strong positive correlations, principally among the characteristics relating to innovation and designer-contractor integration. The emergence of need for innovation as a primary element of the decision is further examined by assessing the complexity of the evaluated projects through a Project Information Sheet distributed to TxDOT practitioners. The findings of this analysis indicated that complexity of design elements is highly correlated with innovation and that traffic challenges are the most common element increasing project complexity. These findings are also evaluated using importance weightings generated by an expert panel. The quantitative results are useful both for practitioners seeking to refine their project delivery method decision-making process and for researchers seeking a quantitative basis for future investigation.


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