By Rich Juliano, svp and managing director of contractors and P3 division, ARTBA

ARTBA August 28 submitted comments to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on the agency’s proposed rule for the use of the construction manager/general contractor (CM/GC) contracting method for federal-aid highway projects.  The rule emanates from a provision in the most recent federal surface transportation reauthorization bill, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which enables state transportation departments to utilize CM/GC on federal-aid projects without seeking special permission from FHWA.

CM/GC is a “two-phase” contracting process in which the public agency retains a contractor during the design phase to provide advice on constructability and related issues.  In the second phase, the agency and contractor negotiate a price for construction of the project, on which the firm serves as general contractor.  If the two parties cannot agree on a price, the project generally proceeds as a traditional design-bid-build project, which bidding open to all qualified firms.  In recent years, FHWA has promoted the use of CM/CG among the states as a means of improving efficiency.  The proposed rule requires review and approval by the FHWA division administrator during various points in the CM/GC  process.

In the comments, ARTBA makes clear that the association is not endorsing the use of CM/GC, as that is the prerogative of state transportation agencies in consultation with their local industry groups.  ARTBA does note the importance of transparency, objectivity, clarity and open competition in CM/GC contracting.  Also, the comments point out the distinctions between adapting CM/GC to heavy/highway construction, where it is a relatively new concept, and vertical construction, where “construction manager at risk” has been used for some time.

Thank you to the ARTBA member-firms and chapters who shared their experience and thoughts on CM/GC as ARTBA staff prepared the comments. For more information on CM/GC and related policy issues, please contact me.