The vital connection between America’s infrastructure and the well-being of our citizenry is never more apparent than in times of crisis. As residents of Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico deal with the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, it’s clear rebuilding communities there will be an immense task; however, there are important lessons to be learned after Hurricanes Katrina, Irene and Sandy that could also be utilized to make infrastructure better and stronger as we rebuild after these latest weather crises.
The use of design-build project delivery, which has been at the heart of modern-day disaster reconstruction, from hurricanes to the Pentagon rebuild after 9/11 and the Minneapolis Interstate 35 bridge collapse in 2007. Design-build isn’t new and it’s not radical; however, it does require public owners—such as cities, states and the federal government—to provide flexibility in the procurement process by allowing designers and builders to collaborate earlier in the process. This creates projects that allocate risks more efficiently and improving delivery time and budget.
While Florida has full authority to use design-build in its recovery, the state of Texas has only limited authority for the use of the design-build. By law, the Texas Department of Transportation is limited to using design-build on just three state highway projects per year—and those projects must cost $150 million or more. The limit is arbitrary and, given the enormity of the reconstruction challenges facing Texas, wholly inadequate to the challenge. Potentially even more problematic is a Texas statute making it impossible for the state’s small communities to respond as nimbly as cities over 100,000 in population.
Rebuilding efforts should be equitable across all damaged areas, not just in large cities. The Design-Build Institute of America and its membership has asked Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to follow the lead of many other hurricane state governors and use his emergency authority to allow the use of design-build in Texas communities desperate for recovery solutions.
You can be sure disaster recovery, infrastructure investment and strategies to maximize efficient project delivery are just some of the hot topics design-builders from throughout the nation will be talking about Nov. 8-10 at DBIA’s 2017 Conference and Expo in Philadelphia.
This is the event of the year for the nation’s growing design-build industry and a unique opportunity for networking across all sectors and disciplines. Registration for this year’s event is underway. Communication, collaboration and innovation. They’re vital to reconstruction, design-build and DBIA’s 2017 Conference and Expo.