In 2004, state transportation departments saved more than $1.4 billion as a result of value engineering (VE). These savings came from re-examining a transportation project’s design plan in order to improve the design’s safety, quality and functionality, while also reducing the cost. The VE process also can shorten project schedules, lower life-cycle costs, foster innovation and improve quality.
A VE study typically takes four to five days to perform and involves a multidisciplinary team. At the concept stage, this team might involve planning and right-of-way staff, environmentalists and private citizens. A study done during the design phase of a project might involve a team of construction, design, traffic and maintenance staff.
VE successes and strategies were spotlighted at the biennial VE conference, held in July in San Antonio, Texas. Sponsored by the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the conference included presentations on methods and case studies, as well as information on the basic foundation of VE for those new to the practice. The 160 participants hailed from 40 states, Canada, Puerto Rico and Greece. Many of the states that attended are already reaping the benefits of using VE. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), for example, has been conducting VE studies since 1969. Since 2000, Caltrans has saved $630 million from the 139 VE studies performed. In Utah, meanwhile, the department of transportation saved more than $305 million in design costs since it began using VE in 1989. And the Lousiana Department of Transportation and Development formalized its VE program in 2004 after holding VE training sessions in 1991 and 1997. Five VE studies were conducted in fiscal year 2004 that produced $29.4 million in savings. California, Utah and Louisiana received the 2005 FHWA Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Value Engineering, along with the West Virginia Department of Transportation, which recently published a VE Manual and Design Directive to promote VE awareness and use of VE principles.
The AASHTO National VE Awards also were presented at the VE conference. Honorees included the Florida Department of Transportation for its work to reduce construction time for the I-595 corridor project in Broward County and minimize right-of-way and environmental impacts, which will cut costs by hundreds of millions of dollars. TxDOT, meanwhile, was recognized for its VE study of the Peter Whetstone Square Enhancement Project in Marshall, Texas. The project was originally running about 40% over budget. Changes made to complete the project within the planned time frame and budget included using innovative landscaping features.
Additional AASHTO award winners included the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the Washington State Department of Transportation. New Jersey reduced the budget of its proposed Rte. 46 over Overpeck Creek bridge project from $15 million to $9 million as a result of the VE study done. The project schedule also was shortened from 18 months to six months. Among the VE study recommendations were to use prefabricated superstructure units, moveable barriers and a “hyperbuild” strategy.
Washington State’s VE study of the proposed expansion of the I-405 corridor examined the most effective ways to treat and control storm-water runoff. Such environmentally sustainable solutions of using infiltration systems in place of storm-water vaults will result in more than $62 million in cost savings.For more information on the 2005 VE conference, visit tti.tamu.edu/conferences/vec.