Expediting Infrastructure Repair Through Design-Build

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Letter to Governor Cuomo highlighting the design-build method for disaster relief in New York State from Executive Director of Unshackle Upstate, Brian Sampson.

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Expediting Infrastructure Repair Through Design-Build

  1. 1. September 14, 2011Howard Glaser, Director of State OperationsExecutive ChamberAlbany, NY 12224RE: Expediting Infrastructure Repair through the Use of Design-BuildDear Mr. Glaser:I write to thank the Governor for his leadership during this difficult time, and for his recognition thatstate and local governments must do all that they can to help the families, businesses and communitiesthat have been devastated by the recent flooding get back on their feet.Given the current fiscal realities – that the state and local governments face significant financiallimitations that will affect their ability to pay for the rebuilding roads, bridges, schools and other publicinfrastructure – we urge you to take immediate steps to reduce the cost of rebuilding the roads, bridgesand schools that have been damaged.To that end, I urge Governor Cuomo to use his emergency authority to expedite the repair andreplacement of roads, bridges and other infrastructure by authorizing the use of alternative projectdelivery methods such as design-build in those counties subject to federal or state disaster declarations.Design-build is a method of project delivery in which a single entity works under one contract with theproject owner to provide design and construction services, providing a unified flow of work from initialconcept through completion. The design-build process has been used successfully throughout the nationin constructing office buildings, schools, stadiums, transportation and water infrastructure projects withsuperior results.I believe that under the circumstances that the state and many of its local governments are facing todayin terms of storm recovery, design-build represents a superior alternative to the design-bid-buildprocess in which design and construction responsibilities are undertaken by separate entities underseparate contracts.
  2. 2. President Obama recently acknowledge that government use of design-build can expedite the deliveryof infrastructure in an August 31st memorandum directing the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce,Housing and Urban Development, Interior and Transportation to select up to three high priorityinfrastructure projects within the control and jurisdiction of the Federal government to be completedwithin 18 months. The President’s memorandum calls for facilitating interagency coordination andencouraging State use of construction acceleration techniques such as design-build.The recent replacement of the I-35 Bridge in Minneapolis after its tragic collapse may provide New YorkState will a useful example of what is possible using the design-build process. According to theMinnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT), the use of design-build had numerous benefits interms of efficiency and reduced costs, including: - the completion time was reduced because of the ability to overlap design and construction; - the process allowed for greater innovation and flexibility in selecting design, materials and construction methods; - there were fewer claims due to design errors because construction happened under the same contract; and - there was a single contact point for quality, cost and scheduling for the entire project (from design through construction).For more information on this project, please see the enclosed document from the 2009 National Design-Build Awards Competition.Design-build has been used successfully here in New York State as well. The East Harlem School, acharter school in Manhattan, was constructed using the design-build process. ArchitecturalConstruction Services (ARCS) acted as general contractor on the project, hiring subcontractors to workunder its supervision. Under their design-build model, they were able to share costs and balance sheetswith the client, providing a transparent operation and allowing for savings elsewhere. For moreinformation on this project, see the enclosed document prepared by Peter Gluck & Partners, parentcompany of ARCS.As New York State and the its impacted communities struggle to recover from what we can only hope isa once-in-a-lifetime natural disaster, I feel that it is important that the Governor permit the use ofintegrated design-build techniques to expedite the restoration of our state’s critical infrastructure.Please contact me if I can provide you with any further information on this. Yours, Brian Sampson, Executive Director Unshackle Upstate

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