ROADS/BRIDGES: Nebraska set to authorize design-build for transportation

April 15, 2016

When signed by the governor, the bill will give NDOR new authority to deliver projects quicker, cheaper

Nebraska this week saw passage of the Transportation Innovation Act (L960), a bill that increases funding for Nebraska transportation projects and authorizes design-build project delivery, Construction Manager/General Contractor delivery, and the use of public-private partnerships (P3s) for transportation projects.

“This legislation will fundamentally change Nebraska’s Department of Roads for the better,” said Oretta Smith, Executive Director of the Design-Build Institute of America’s Mid-America Region, which has been working in Nebraska for years to pass similar legislation. “I have seen design-build project delivery lead to the highest-quality transportation projects being delivered ahead of schedule in the neighboring states of Missouri, Kansas and Colorado, and I’m so excited to see Nebraska finally get this valuable tool as well.”

“With the passage of the Transportation Innovation Act, Nebraska joins the vast majority of states that have authorized design-build for transportation,” said Lisa Washington, C.A.E., who serves as Executive Director/CEO for DBIA. “There are now only a handful states in the U.S. with serious restrictions on the use of design-build for transportation projects, and that’s because design-build has proven to be a valuable tool for states to achieve time and cost savings while completing superior projects.”

Studies have indicated that design-build transportation projects are completed up to 36% faster, with up to 11% cost savings when compared to traditional delivery methods.

Nebraska Department of Roads Director Kyle Schneweis recently told Roads & Bridges that passage of the bill will be a significant boost toward the department increasing its major project letting and addressing its overall bridge system.

“We have a network of bridges built 100 years ago for an economy that has fundamentally changed,” Schneweis said, “so we have to get strategic about how we address the problem. Like many states we do have challenges on the bridge side, but we’ve been making steady progress. We’re trying to develop a more sophisticated asset management model and we expect to be more dynamic now in the future because of that.”

According to a recent DBIA survey of state transportation departments, there has been a 600% increase in the amount of completed design-build transportation projects since 2002. Governor Pete Ricketts has been a strong proponent of the bill and is likely to sign it soon.

For further discussion of the state of transportation in Nebraska and neighboring states, check back next month for our first 2016 Region Report, which will cover the Great Plains states, in our upcoming May issue of Roads & Bridges.

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