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I-12 Award Restores La.'s Waning Faith in Design-Build

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The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development improved waning local confidence in design-build by awarding a $36.2 million, 604-day design-build contract to Gilchrist Construction Co. of Alexandria, La.

I-12 Award Restores La.'s Waning Faith in Design-Build
Photo: Sam Barnes
La. DOTD made a controversial design-build award in January on a similar project to reconstruct an I-10 railroad overpass in southeast Baton Rouge
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Gilchrist had the lowest bid and best technical score.

The April 28 award for a project to widen Interstate 12 in Baton Rouge east of Pete’s Highway to Juban Road is the first design-build award by the DOTD since it made a controversial Jan. 29 design-build award on another project to the contractor with the highest cost and longest delivery time.

Since then, the DOTD implemented some changes to the solicitation process.

“We think that some of the administrative changes that the DOTD made helped better clarify the scope of work and the decision making process with the department,” says Ken Naquin, CEO of Louisiana Associated General Contractors. Moving forward, the AGC is working on a task force with DOTD and consulting engineers to “make the design-build process even better,” Naquin says.

The future of design-build in the state relies heavily on the task force’s ability to educate the public, legislators and the construction community about the process, says Jodi Conachen, DOTD communications director. Currently, the DOTD is not scheduled to award any other projects using design-build.

The Gilchrist design-build team includes ABMB Engineers Inc. of Baton Rouge; AECOM USA Inc. of New York; APEX Engineering Corp. of Centreville, Miss.; GeoEngineers Inc. of Seattle, Wash.; and the SJB Group LLC of Baton Rouge.

Barriere Construction Co. LLC of New Orleans proposed a $36.9 million, 581-day bid. Diamond B Construction Co. LLC of Alexandria’s bid exceeded DOTD’s capped budget price of $37 million and was deemed non-responsive.

Funds for the I-12 widening project come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and state surplus. Gilchrist will begin work this summer. The project is scheduled for completion in early 2012.

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