Effort to fast-track road work dies in North Dakota

| 2/26/2007

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

The House voted 70-21 to reject a bill - HB1105 - that would have authorized the North Dakota Department of Transportation to use the so-called "design-build" concept for some transportation projects.

Through 2011, the agency would have been allowed to complete up to five road or bridge projects statewide using the concept. After that, lawmakers would have needed 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 said the process is a way to speed construction and save money, while improving accountability. Opponents said the practice falls far short of the goals promised by its backers. They also said it creates a huge windfall for just a handful of big construction companies.