A bill allowing unprecedented design-build authority, which will ultimately save taxpayer dollars and deliver transportation projects more quickly throughout California, was signed into law Friday by Gov. Brown.
AB 401 by Assemblyman Tom Daly (D-Anaheim), an Orange County Transportation Authority sponsor bill, will go into effect Jan. 1. OCTA plans to utilize the bill to move forward on a project to improve the San Diego Freeway (I-405), which includes the busiest stretch of highway in the country.
“On behalf of OCTA and transportation agencies throughout the state, I want to thank Gov. Brown for signing the bill and Assemblyman Daly for his efforts,” said OCTA Chairman Greg Winterbottom. “Utilizing design-build will benefit all Californians by saving time and taxpayer dollars while delivering critical infrastructure projects, as well as creating employment opportunities when they are still greatly needed.”
Design-build is a project-delivery method that allows for design work and construction to occur simultaneously. One contractor is hired to perform both functions, which increases the speed that a project can be delivered and saves money. The traditional method of project delivery requires that the design be completed by one company and then another is hired when design is finished to handle the construction.
With design-build authority, transportation agencies will have the ability to streamline the delivery of highway projects key to the implementation of local sales tax measures, thereby saving local agencies additional costs and delays in project delivery. For the I-405 Improvement Project in Orange County, it is estimated that the use of design-build will shave off two to three years from the project delivery date, allowing for cost savings up to $100 million.
Obtaining the needed state authorization to allow regional transportation agencies like OCTA to utilize the design-build project procurement method was no easy task. Bill sponsor Daly, OCTA and its bill supporters worked diligently to address a variety of issues raised by the California State Transportation Agency, the state’s regional transportation agencies and related building trade associations representing public and private labor organizations.
AB 401, will permit all statewide regional transportation agencies, as defined, to utilize design-build procurement for an unlimited number of transportation projects on the state highway system, as well as expressways, as defined in the bill. AB 401 also would authorize the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to utilize design-build procurement for up to 10 projects on the state highway system until 2024, recognizing the cost savings and expedited project delivery benefits design-build provides.
Under this legislation, Caltrans retains their vested responsibilities related to construction inspection services and safety oversight.