Box 3-1


Contractor Incentives Accelerate Construction Project in California

On Sunday, April 29, 2007, a gasoline tanker traveling through the “MacArthur Maze” interchange on westbound 80 to southbound 880 toward San Jose, California, overturned and caught fire. The intense heat caused the steel frame of the freeway to soften, and the eastbound 580 connector above collapsed onto the 880 connector, forcing closure of two major arterials in the interchange.

The governor issued an emergency declaration the same day that allowed for streamlining of public contracting and permitting codes and provided emergency funding to enable repair operations to begin immediately. The California Department of Transportation estimated that repairs to the damaged section of the MacArthur Maze would cost $5.2 million. For every day short of the June 26, 2007, deadline, the agency offered a $200,000 bonus, up to $5 million total. The highest bid was $6.4 million. The construction firm C. C. Myers of Rancho Cordova won the job with the low bid of $867,075. The company had a plan to get the job done rapidly enough to earn the entire bonus.

Crews were on the job less than an hour after the contract was signed. Work continued 24 hours a day in 12-hour shifts. The first vehicles traveled on a repaired interchange on the evening of May 24, approximately 25 days after the incident had occurred.

Full Road Closures Reduce Project Duration in Several States

In certain circumstances, full road closure can be less disruptive than attempting to maintain traffic through a construction area:

  • The Delaware Department of Transportation (DOT) rehabilitated a 6.1-mile section of roadway between Wilmington, Delaware, and the Pennsylvania state line. The project included rehabilitation of pavement, bridges, the drainage system, lighting and safety features, and 10 interchange ramps. Full directional road closures were used to reduce the construction time from 2 years to 185 days.

  • The Oregon DOT used full directional closures when it repaved the Banfield Freeway in Portland. The use of full closures reduced the time for the paving portion of the project from 32 nights to 2 full weekends.

  • The Michigan DOT used full closure to speed construction and improve safety when it rehabilitated part of the Lodge Freeway in Detroit. The use of full closure reduced the construction time from 6 months to 53 days.

SOURCES: FHWA 2007a; FHWA 2008a.

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