'Design-build' approved to speed road, bridge repairs in Louisiana

| 12/14/2005

Gov. Kathleen Blanco has signed a bill into law intended to put road and bridge repairs in Louisiana on the fast track.

Approved during a recently completed special session of the Louisiana Legislature to address issues related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the new law gives the state’s highway department open-ended authority to use the so-called “design-build” concept for hurricane repair contracts.

The design-build contracting process allows contractors to submit plans to design and construct each highway project. Typically, one firm designs a highway and another builds it, with the two tasks bid separately.

Rep. Roy Quezaire, D-Donaldsonville, said the effort could apply to work throughout the state that was affected by hurricanes.

The new law, previously HB132, requires the approval of the state’s House and Senate transportation panels before the state’s highway department could undertake a design-build project.

Louisiana law previously required the state to solicit bids for the design of a road or bridge, wait for the bids to be awarded, then bid out the construction part of the project. Quezaire said making it a one-step process could speed some projects by a year or more.

Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development officials said that 37 states now use design-build as a way to speed construction and save money.