California authorizes first design-build projects

First picks are I-10/I-110 express lanes in L.A. County and S.R. 91 improvement

April 09, 2010

The California Transportation Commission (CTC) has taken historic action in authorizing two regional projects to move forward under the state's new Design-Build Program. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro)/Department of Transportation (Caltrans) ExpressLane Project (I-10 and I-110) and the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) SR-91 Corridor Improvement Project are the first local design-build projects authorized by the CTC under the landmark legislation (Senate Bill 4, SBX2 4) signed in 2009 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The CTC had previously authorized three Caltrans projects at their February 2010 meeting.

“The commission’s action represents the start of a new era for highway construction in California and is a welcome addition to the state’s public contracting toolbox,” said Caltrans Director Randy Iwasaki. “Both projects are excellent design-build procurement candidates that have the potential for achieving improved delivery efficiency and significant job creation.”

The passage of SBX2 4 in February 2009 authorized use of the design-build method of procurement by California’s regional and state transportation agencies. The legislation provided for a pilot program for design-build contracting, providing authority for up to 15 design-build transportation projects.

The LA Metro/Caltrans ExpressLane Project is a joint state and local project slated for implementation by Caltrans on the state highway system utilizing one of the 10 slots allocated to Caltrans. The LA Metro ExpressLane Project will take existing carpool lanes on the I-10 and I-110 Harbor Transitway and convert them to high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, or ExpressLanes, scheduled to open in 2012. The project will provide commuters with new and better travel options along two of L.A. County’s most congested corridors and create 2,400 construction-related jobs.

The RCTC SR-91 Corridor Improvement Project is a local transportation project slated for implementation by a regional entity on the state highway system. The commission’s decision provides an important approval for RCTC to move forward with a $1.3 billion plan to widen State Rte. 91 through Corona with the addition of new freeway lanes, toll/express lanes, expanded freeway-to-freeway connectors and better access to and from the freeway at congested locations. The project is expected to create 20,000 jobs.

The statute authorizes use of the design-build method of procurement by regional transportation agencies for up to five projects and by Caltrans for up to 10 projects, subject to authorization by the CTC. The design-build portion of the bill will sunset on Jan. 1, 2014. SBX2 4 also permits design-build for certain other types of public projects and allows the use of public-private partnerships for transportation projects.