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Legislators meet to discuss bill regarding design-build approach to infrastructure improvements

November 10, 2023 1:31 PM | Megan Magensky (Administrator)

The House Transportation Committee met Tuesday to discuss House Bill 1833.

If passed, this bill would amend Title 74 to create an alternative procurement method of Design Build Best Value.

This legislation would allow PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to use the Design Build Best Value method as an alternative to competitive sealed bidding.  

According to a Reason Foundation report, Pennsylvania’s highway system ranks 41st in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition.

Pennsylvania ranks in the bottom 10 nationally in other disbursements, structurally deficient bridges and rural interstate pavement condition.

“Given the poor condition of its bridges and its mediocre pavement condition, the state might consider reprioritizing its spending to focus more on roadway and bridge maintenance,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “While it may be challenging for Pennsylvania to have low costs and roadways and bridges in good condition, the state needs to prioritize bringing its infrastructure to a state of good repair.”

In a The Center Square article, Feigenbaum says a design-build approach to roads, where one firm designs and constructs a project, rather than a design-bid-build approach, where multiple firms work on a project, could give Pennsylvania better results.

 “If Pennsylvania was able to do (design-build), they could construct projects probably 20%-30% cheaper than they’re doing right now, both in construction and maintenance,” Feigenbaum is quoted saying the article.

The bill states Design Build Best Value can only be used when it has been determined in writing by either a Deputy Secretary for PennDOT or a contracting officer for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission that a construction project would benefit from the Design Build Best Value method. 

The Agency utilizing design build best value is required to publish the notice of determination for a reasonable time on a website accessed by industry partners in consulting and construction.    

HB 1833 enables PennDOT and the Turnpike to conduct a one-step or two-step request for proposals.  

  •  One-step request for proposals - the agency shall seek a technical and price proposal. 
-   PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission are limited to advertising no more than five one-step design build best value procurements per calendar year.   
  • Two-step request for proposals - the agency shall seek a statement of qualifications as step one and a technical and price proposal as step two.  
PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission shall advertise no more than 20 two-step design build best value procurements per calendar year.  

The proposal that is determined in writing to be the most advantageous to the agency shall be selected for contract negotiations necessary to finalize a contract or to clarify any remaining issue regarding scope, schedule, or any other information provided by the selected best value offeror without impacting material price and evaluation factors.  

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