Construction Engineering & Project Management
Building and maintaining infrastructure in a timely and efficient manner is critical for the advancement of society. The mission of KTC’s Construction Engineering & Project Management group is to perform research that improves the development and delivery of infrastructure projects, with a focus on safety, cost, schedule, and quality. The group’s researchers have collaborated extensively with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and over the past five years have quickly risen to national prominence through a series of projects undertaken as part of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) and on behalf of the Construction Industry Institute. Work for the NCHRP has focused on topics such as construction staffing issues and strategies, optimizing the utility coordination process, the use of alternative contracting, and transportation agencies’ use of mobile information technologies. Research on construction safety issues and the craft workforce has been funded by the Construction Industry Institute. The group also conducts work on topics ranging from project closeouts and building information modeling, to the use of aerial imagery that facilitates project delivery.
Construction Engineering & Project Mangement – New & Research
Alternate Technical Concepts
Alternative Technical Concepts, or ATC, is a flexible highway contracting process that enables innovation, reduces project delivery time, and provides cost savings. KTC researchers selected the US-460 Russell Fork project to study the ATC process. Contractors prequalified by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) attended an informational meeting to learn about the ATC bidding process and were presented with KYTC’s draft project plans, which describe construction of the Pond Creek bridge, building a ramp from KY 80 to the new road, and paving/surfacing requirements. An ecology survey revealed practices that interfere with the habitat of the Big Sandy Crayfish, which changed the letting date.
The ATC process stipulates that contractors receive the information 6 months before the official advertisement during which time a Technical Review committee is organized. A contractor decides where they could provide innovation and technical expertise and at that point, delivers a formal submission of the idea. The ATC is proposed as an alternative to a bid item — this could include design solutions, project specifications, materials, products, or traffic control. A contractor can propose multiple ATCs.
The proposed ATC concept must differ from the base design in the KYTC contract documents, meet the schedule, maintain the project’s purpose and function, and meet all policies and environmental regulations. If the contractor’s ATC is approved, they can submit only one alternative bid as a lump sum item that includes a schedule of values. If KYTC approves a contractor’s ATC but does not award a contract, the contractor is eligible for a stipend. The winning contractor becomes the Engineer of Record and is responsible for all engineering plans. Before the project’s construction phase, KYTC approves all plans. The primary goal of the ATC contracting process is to develop a product equal to or better that what would have been produced by the concept it replaces. Contributors to ATC include Research Engineer Roy Sturgill from Construction, Engineering & Project Management & Engineer Gary Valentine from Special Projects & Initiatives
Methods to Expedite & Streamline Utility Relocations
The co‐location of utilities within and near road and highway right‐of‐ways presents challenges to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) in the construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure. The largest overall issue is that in most instances KYTC cannot directly manage utility relocations. Relocations are typically performed under the direct supervision of the utility owner/operator. KYTC projects may experience negative project performance impacts or delayed project start dates due to unfinished utility relocations. Developing a method to improve the efficiency of utility relocations would help to mitigate the negative impact of utility relocations on KYTC projects.
Safety Concepts for Workers from an OSHA perspective
KTC examined the safety culture within highway construction and researched the safety best practices of highway construction workers. Those practices will be included in training that enhances the Cabinet’s worker safety programs and policies. After analyzing 3800 job safety incidents and evaluating policy in several other states, a job safety analysis tool was developed to improve the safety performance of KYTC projects. For each work task, the JSA provides information on the number and severity of incidents and offers mitigation and control techniques. The tool considers OSHA safety concepts for workers, and does not take into account workzone safety.
Bridge End Settlement Evaluation and Prediction
A bridge approach is usually built to provide a smooth and safe transition for vehicles from the roadway pavement to the bridge structure. However, differential settlement between the roadway pavement resting on embankment fill and the bridge abutment often creates a bump in the roadway. KTC examined historic data on maintenance and inspection from a wide range of Kentucky roads to find methods for predicting settlement severity. The important factors that influenced settlement were: geographic regions, approach age, average daily traffic (ADT), the use of approach slabs, and the foundation soil depth. Researchers developed two models based on those factors that will predict the approach settlement level for a new bridge or an existing bridge. Prediction of bridge approach settlement plays an important role in selecting proper design, construction, and maintenance techniques and measures.
Change Orders and Lessons Learned
Many times, change is necessary for the success of a project. “Change, defined as any event that results in a modification of the original scope, execution time, or cost of work, happens on most projects due to the uniqueness of each project and the limited resources of time and money available for planning” (Hanna, Camlic, Peterson, & Nordheim, 2002). While change orders are necessary to address unforeseen conditions and other unavoidable or unanticipated occurrences, they tend to negatively affect construction. In most public works, change orders are the main reason for construction delays and cost overruns (Wu, Hsieh, & Cheng, 2005). Change orders also lead to a decline in labor efficiency, loss of man hours, and costly disputes (Moselhi, Assem, & El- Rayes, 2005). It is important to understand the impact change orders have on project performance, but it is also important to understand the cause of change orders. Before change orders can be handled properly, owners must be aware of the reasons behind change orders. This research examines change orders on Kentucky Transportation Cabinet projects and focuses on identifying the leading cause of change orders, identifying the types of changes orders that produce the highest risk, and developing a procedure for pricing change orders.