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The Texas Department of Transportation announced Feb. 8 it intends to move forward with a design-build strategy –a type of public-private partnership– to construct segments F-1, F-2 and G of the Grand Parkway, Houston’s third outer loop.
A design-build strategy allows a contractor to handle the layout and construction of a highway project, as opposed to a traditional route in which TxDOT does not procure contracts until sketches are complete.
“With design-build, the design needs to be started before construction begins, but they can start on phase one while designing phase two, for example,” said Karen Amacker, TxDOT spokesperson. “It allows them to get from concept to reality much more quickly.”
Last summer, TxDOT began to explore the idea of a private-public partnership to deliver segments F-1, F-2 and G, which will span northern Harris County and connect Hwy. 290, Hwy. 249, I-45 and Hwy. 59. Under a design-build contract, TxDOT anticipates work will begin on the segments by 2013.
“Being able to do a design-build contract moves things forward much more quickly,” Amacker said. “When we do things the traditional way, the design needs to be 100 percent complete before moving forward with the contract.”
TxDOT issued a request for qualifications to interested firms last summer regarding a public-private partnership for the Grand Parkway. As of last week, the agency has begun to determine which firms will be asked to move forward for the request for proposals. When the process is complete, responses will be scored and TxDOT will choose the proposal with the best value.
“The business environment is just right for design-build to be the best value for the state,” Amacker said. “The proposals that will come forward in the RFP process will better outline for the department how much roadway our funds will buy.”