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Design-build changes stalled

Published (5/30/2008)
By Craig Green
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When contracts were awarded for rebuilding the Interstate 35W bridge, the two construction companies chosen were from out of state (Colorado and Washington), offered the highest bid ($234 million) and proposed the longest completion schedule (437 days).

Concerns were raised about the Department of Transportation’s selection process.

HF3301, sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Kalin (DFL-North Branch), proposes policy changes to the state’s design-build process. Kalin said provisions in the bill are a push for “transparency and openness in the process, to make sure that Minnesotans can believe in the final product.”

Approved by the House 94-36 May 16, it was awaiting action by the Senate Transportation Committee when the session concluded. Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing) is the Senate sponsor.

Proposed changes include:

• providing opportunities for all bidders to protest a contemplated or actual award;

• once a contract is awarded and scoring date is disclosed, the commissioner must wait seven days before executing a contract, unless all bidders have waived the waiting period;

• repeal of a statute allowing design-build contract awarding process for projects costing less than $5 million;

• compensation for members of the technical review committee who are not state employees; and

• a requirement that at least two members of the technical review committee who are state employees be at least senior administrative engineers.

Rep. Doug Magnus (R-Slayton) successfully offered an amendment that would require a Feb. 15, 2010, report from MnDOT on the financial savings and effectiveness of changes to the design-build process.

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