North Dakota bill would fast-track road work

| 1/10/2007

A bill offered in North Dakota is intended to put road and bridge work in the state in the fast lane.

Sponsored by House Transportation Committee Chairman Robin Weisz, R-Hurdsfield, the bill would authorize the North Dakota Department of Transportation to use the so-called "design-build" concept for some transportation projects.

Through 2011, the agency would be allowed to complete up to five road or bridge projects statewide using the concept. After that, lawmakers would need to approve another piece of legislation.

About 40 states now use design-build in some capacity.

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

Supporters say the process is a way to speed construction and save money, while improving accountability. Opponents say the practice falls far short of the goals promised by its backers. They also say it creates a huge windfall for just a handful of big construction companies.

The bill - HB1105 - is in the House Transportation Committee.