Indiana's $400 million Major Moves 2020 program has taken off quickly, with three projects under construction, one in the process of bidding, and two more scheduled to open bids before the end of the year. Work to add a lane in each direction on heavily traveled sections of Indiana interstate will finish by the end of 2017.
Though originally conceived as a longer-term program, Indiana Governor Mike Pence released the last of the money from a trust fund earlier this year when construction price inflation outpaced investment earnings. To help speed the schedule before costs increase more, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is utilizing design-build delivery on all six projects. Five of the contracts are based on low price, but the last will use design-build best-value to encourage private sector competition in completing as much work as possible with the designated funds.
With traditional state and federal funds dedicated to maintaining and preserving existing roads and bridges, added capacity usually requires new initiatives. Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels kicked off the original Major Moves program in 2006 to significantly improve and expand the state's highway infrastructure (see "The First Major Moves" sidebar). Funding for that program ends this year.
During the 2013 budget session, the Indiana legislature established a new trust fund and set aside $400 million. "The idea was to fund some of those major new capacity issuesadded travel lanes or new roadway projectsthat were not part of the original Major Moves program," said Will Wingfield, INDOT Spokesman.
Originally the legislature envisioned the new program lasting until 2020. However, economic conditions prompted a new approach. "In 2014, as part of Governor Pence's legislative agenda, the recommendation was to release that funding, which was not earning enough in the investments to outpace the increasing cost of construction projects," Wingfield said.
The legislature released $200 million immediately. After review by the State Budget Committee and December statewide revenue forecasts, Governor Pence directed the second wave of $200 million to be released in January.
To identify the highest-priority projects, INDOT analyzes traffic flow with real-time traffic speed mapping (the same information available through computer apps). "We take information collected by private companies and look at it over a year's timemillions, if not billions, of data pointsand we analyze that to determine where our greatest traffic delay is in our system," Wingfield said. "We also look at the condition of the pavement and bridges on the interstates and take all that information together to determine the areas of greatest need."
INDOT identified six projects that match the legislature's original goals for Major Moves 2020:
1. Widen I-65 south of Indianapolis between Southport Road (Exit 103) and Main Street in Greenwood, Ind. (Exit 99). INDOT awarded the $36 million contract last October to Indianapolis' Milestone Contractors, LP.
2. Widen I-65 near Lafayette, Ind., from State Road 38 (Exit 168) to State Road 25 (Exit 175). Walsh Construction Company, based in Crown Point, Ind., won the $83 million contract in January.
3. Widen I-65 between Main Street and State Road 44 (Exit 90) near Franklin, Ind. (contiguous with project #1). In March, that $84 million contract was also awarded to Indianapolis' Milestone Contractors, LP.
4. Widen seven miles of I-65 from Sellersburg, Ind. (Exit 9) to Memphis, Ind. (Exit 16) in Clark County. INDOT plans to open bids in July.
5. Widen I-69 from 106th Street (Mile 204) in Fishers, Ind., to at least State Road 13 (Exit 214) in Madison County. Using a design-build best-value approach, INDOT issued a Request for Qualifications in March.
6. Widen Lafayette Center Road/CR 900N between U.S. 24 in Huntington County and I-69 in Allen County. INDOT plans to open bids in December.
Most of the projects will turn the 60-foot-wide grassy median into two new travel lanes, one in each direction. However, "In the first contract, the median had already been used," Wingfield said. To improve traffic flow and safety, "That expansion will be along the outside. We'll build ramps or auxiliary lanes connecting the interchanges. We'll create a net width of an additional lane in each direction, but it's to give traffic more room to accelerate, decelerate, and merge."
Only project #6 required land acquisition. "Even then it's just a strip along the sides of the road to facilitate the widening," Wingfield said.
Project #6 is also the only one not on interstate. "Lafayette Center Road strategically connects U.S. 24 with I-69 and I-469 in the Fort Wayne area," Wingfield explained. "I-469 ends at Lafayette Center Road, which serves a lot of warehouses, the General Motors plant, and the Vera Bradley facility."
In addition to new travel lanes, about half of the existing pavement throughout the projects will be resurfaced and half will be completely replaced, depending on the current condition of the road, Wingfield said. Contractors will also widen or rehabilitate existing bridges that carry the interstate sections.
In traditional maintenance and preservation projects, INDOT generally uses design-bid-build. However, "For some of our larger contracts in recent years, we've made use of the design-build technique for the primary reason that it reduces the delivery timetable when the design and construction phases happen concurrently," Wingfield said.
According to Louis Feagans, INDOT's Scoping Director, "Design-build speeds up the process by at least a year and sometimes more." Because the Major Moves 2020 projects required minimal utility, right-of-way, and permitting work, "We were able to get the design out very quickly with design-build."
The delivery system also helped INDOT maximize funding. "The investment earnings [for Major Moves 2020] haven't been keeping pace with construction price inflation, so the quicker we can deliver these projects, the more we can get from that funding," Wingfield said. "We have this defined budget of $400 million, so our intent is to make use of every pennynot any more, and not any less."
Design-build best value will help INDOT accomplish that goal. Once budgets are established for the other contracts, the agency will set the budget for project #5 to use the last of the Major Moves 2020 funding. "Our intent is to have the private sector compete over how they can best invest that budget," Wingfield said. Because of increasing traffic, "We want to widen I-69 as far to the northeast as possible."
After evaluating responses to the project's Request for Qualifications, INDOT plans to issue the Request for Proposals to short-listed teams soon, with proposals due in September. Wingfield anticipates announcing the preliminary selection in December or January.
The first Major Moves 2020 project broke ground in March and is scheduled for completion by the end of this year. Projects #2 and #3 recently started construction. Most of the new roadway will open by the end of 2016 and all the work should finish by the end of 2017.
According to Wingfield, one major challenge affects the entire program: "As we build these projects in areas that are already heavily traveled, we have to maintain tens of thousands of vehicles per day. We're not buying any more land to work with, so we have to balance the needs of traffic with giving contractors access to get the job done. Completing the projects in a timely manner and maintaining safety will be one of the primary challenges."
Communication will play a key role in accomplishing the large quantity of work within a small timeframe. To start, "We reached out to the federal highway and permitting agencies and had a lot of one-on-one meetings to get them involved early," Feagans said. Ultimately the six Major Moves 2020 projects will improve travel time, increase safety, and support Indiana's economy. "Roads mean jobs, and Major Moves 2020 will further enhance Indiana's reputation as the Crossroads of America," Pence said.
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