Easier Said Than Done!
I spent my “formative years” bidding and trying to build Public Works projects and make a profit. Yes-I tried to do it safely, but my primary goal was to get it done, get it done in accordance with our schedule, and hit our budget or beat it. These rather simple goals put me at odds sometimes with the Engineers who always had “designed it perfectly” and the Owners who refused to ever admit that something was being demanded of the Contractor that he was not required to do at the time of submission of his bid. I always thought if the Owner had not paid for the work at the time of bid, and it was reasonable to assume the Contractor could not have known the work was required at the time of the bid, the Contractor got to be paid for that “extra work”. Funny-the Owners and Engineers did not see black and white issues like I saw black and white issues.
I now get a chance to listen to “war stories” that are quite similar to what I experienced from 1979 through 2007 (roughly the year I stopped listening and experiencing!). I am thinking there is a problem, and a solution to the problem that I faced, and that many of you face in making money on Public Works projects today.
The problems to making money in Public Works Projects is as follows:
- Contractors and Engineers never have just the right amount of time and information to “nail down” all of the “moving parts” that need to be analyzed for a truly accurate design and cost estimate for building what is represented by the plans and specifications supplied to us to bid on.
- Contractor goals are hardly ever aligned with the designer’s goals or the owner’s goals. Therefore, there are three (or more) very competent groups of people all striving to reach their own goals in descending order of importance to their respective firms. It can get complicated quickly.
- Contractors are required to perform the work but someone else has to decide if the work is acceptable or not. This creates differences of opinion in progress scheduling, and progress payments and final completion ‘triggers”.
- Even if a Project has a very qualified and experienced Contractor, a great set of Project Plans and Specifications, and an owner with “deep enough pockets” to pay for the work, the world is so complicated that sharing of information is not synced up and delays are hard to absorb with the thin margins (or no margins) that it takes for the Contractor to be the low bidder in the first place. Keep in mind the Engineer generally has a fixed budget to some extent as well.
So how can this very “dynamic” situation be quantified, measured, and have time and cost considerations assigned to it in a reasonable way? Lots of consultants make a living on all of this right?
How about considering formal or informal partnering on more projects? My experience is that partnering provides a means to align the various goals and priorities of each entity, and provides a methodology to share in the risk/reward of putting the three disparate groups together to come up with a better solution than any of the three could have on their own. The Owner, the Engineer, and the Contractor HAVE TO GET ALONG. None of them are perfect and we all realize how competitive the elusive Public Works profit dollar is, so how about helping each other out? Instead of putting all of the “means and methods” of performance of the work on the Contractor, and trying to influence and regulate the Contractor’s means and methods throughout the project, the Engineer and Owner can have an opportunity to avoid claims and delays by partnering with the Contractor to get the job built to the goals that overlap and do not conflict.
Easier said than done?
More to come on this issue—–
That’s All Folks!
Recycled Road Materials
The Transportation and Public Works Department is always seeking opportunities to re-purpose, reuse or recycle materials used in our Field Operations. Each year we recycle about 2000 tons of the asphalt removed from City streets that have failed. We take most of this material to an asphalt plant, where it is crushed and processed into an asphalt mix that can be used as a new roadway surface.
Before the old material can be added to a new roadway asphalt mix, it must first be crushed and screened to the appropriate size. This material is then used as part of an asphalt mix we call RAP or Recycled Asphalt Pavement. The RAP mix used to rebuild Santa Rosa’s streets contains 20% recycled asphalt. RAP is quite durable and has a similar life expectancy to that of asphalt mixes made with all new materials.
Asphalt recycling reduces the consumption of scarce natural resources (aggregate and asphalt) and fossil fuels. Recycling asphalt also dramatically reduces the consumption of resources such as fuel, machinery, transportation and labor when compared with producing virgin asphalt materials.
Did you know that asphalt is the most recycled material in the USA?
According to the Federal Highway Administration, 75 million tons of reclaimed asphalt pavement is reused every year. This is nearly twice as much as paper, glass, aluminum and plastics combined.
FUNDING: Senate passes FAST Act, sends it to President Obama
For more information, click here!
The ECA Spec Committee has started meeting again. The committee is partnering with the City of Santa Rosa and discussing Bioswale issues, asphalt temperature requirements, and Santa Rosa sand equivalent specs for Class 2 baserock. With these discussions, the city will look into their requirements to see if any changes can be made.
Also discussed is partnering with the City in notifying ECA when they receive changes from DOHS and other public agencies. We will notify our members first! Another reason to be an ECA member!
The first notification is from Colleen Ferguson, Deputy Director- Engineering in Capitol Projects Engineering:
“Effective immediately, the paint color for raised medians/nose islands is yellow (instead of white). This change applies to projects currently under construction for which paint has not yet been applied.
Please also use this new standard for projects in design”.
These notifications will be included in our newsletter and will be located on our website under News – Announcements. Here is the link
Members in the News
Tom Jackson, General Manager of Veale Outdoor Advertising:
Northbay Biz – Outreach and Marketing: Get Their Attention link
Business Journal Profile: Marv Soiland link
North Bay Business Journal –
Spotlight: Leaders in Contracting, Richard Ghilotti, Ghilotti Construction Co.; Mike Ghilotti, Ghilotti Bros.; Glen Ghilotti, Team Ghilotti – Link
North Bay Business Journal – Guest commentary, Steve Page, General Manager of Sonoma Raceway, A private-sector solution for Hwy. 37 gridlock link