Background: In October 2013 Governor John Kasich announced the investment of $120 million in federal funding to repair or replace approximately 200 county and city-owned bridges over three years. The resulting Ohio Bridge Partnership Program has been developed by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) in conjunction with the state General Assembly, the County Engineer’s Association of Ohio, and participating municipalities. The intent of the program is to reduce the backlog of deficient bridges by addressing the most immediate needs as quickly and efficiently as possible. The Ohio Bridge Partnership Program has used ODOT’s “local-let” process to deliver the bridge projects in bundles. The local-let process permits a county or city to perform work on a federal-aid project under certain conditions. ODOT used design-build project delivery to engage local contractors to perform work on the bridge bundles. Below is the list of Innovations/Best Practices.

Ohio Bridge Partnership Program

Approach/Why it succeeded:

  • Uses innovative finance tools, GARVEE Bonds and Toll Credit as State match
  • Uses the bridges bundle design-build contract and awarded in packages
  • Expects to repair or replace 200 county bridges and 20 city bridges in three years and potential saving of 15 percent state estimated it would take to complete the project.
  • Works cooperatively with Ohio’s County Engineers and municipalities and maintain Transparent in bridge-types acceptance process.

Additional Lessons Learned from ODOT Contractor Experience:

  • One of the projects was scattered around three different counties. It created some logistical issues with quotes and trucking and different concrete aggerate suppliers for each bridge, etc. made it a bit more difficult (but not any different than if bidding on those three bridges individually).
  • Make sure utilities relocated ahead of time – have enough right-of-way.
  • If you can keep it smaller (i.e.: under a couple million dollars), it will allow for competition. ODOT had the smallest contractors bidding against the biggest contractors. The key is to focus on being logistical and not getting too big with how many bridges in a bundle.
  • Location became just as important as size.
  • Proximity to resources is important. For example, looking at projects close to asphalt plants to be able to do everything.
  • Try to stay in the geographic zones of workers – If you can get the sites all near each other, that creates some economies of scale.
  • These were all lump sum bid items. You still had to break down your crews; makes it a bit harder to bid on, as you have different levels to build into that lump sum as opposed to line items which are a bit easier.
  • Don’t think “union” or “non-union” as an issue, let the best price win. If a non-union contactor wants to bid it, they can as long as they use prevailing wages.
  • Work with all your stakeholders. You need a coalition that can go to the legislature and make the case for the program.

“With the large initial program of 223 bridges, we were able to realize cost savings in a variety of ways. Looking back, there were opportunities to mobilize equipment, teams and construction crews; and when we actually had these projects bundled or packaged up in three, four, five or six projects, we tried to keep them in close proximity to each other where contractors could realize the benefits of bidding on one package with multiple bridges in it. We tried to be very cognizant of that and aware of what the needs where from the contractor’s perspective.”

“In addition to that, as we were starting to develop these projects initially in 2013, 2014 and 2015, the contractors were vocal about ensuring that not only were we packaging projects that would benefit large contractors, but also that the small, family-owned contractors across the state would have an opportunity to bid on projects across the state and support their small companies. With that, we had a better range of bids, and the department and the contractors benefitted as well.”

Andrea Stevenson, Administrator of ODOT Office of Local Programs