The National Academies

NCHRP 10-58 [Completed]

Construction Engineering and Management Research Program

  Project Data
Funds: $200,000
Research Agency: University of Wisconsin
Principal Investigator: Jeffrey S. Russell
Effective Date: 3/1/2000
Completion Date: 10/31/2001

Background: State departments of transportation continue to seek innovative ways to deliver high-quality, cost-effective transportation construction improvements. Construction engineering and management costs typically range from 5 to 15 percent of the construction contract amount. Reducing these costs will potentially save millions of dollars for contracting agencies.

Strategies to reduce construction engineering and management costs must ensure that the quality of completed projects is not compromised. A reduction in service life of the completed project will result in additional costs that far exceed any savings that could be achieved through reduced construction engineering and management costs. Therefore, a well-conceived program of research that (1) supports the highest priorities, (2) builds on completed work, and (3) promotes the successful implementation of the research findings is needed. This program will provide contracting agencies with tools and information to manage the risks associated with implementing innovative construction engineering and management practices.

The 1990 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) report, "Research and Development Program for Highway Construction Engineering Management," recommended a priority program of research and development needs for construction engineering and management. The report documented the results of an effort prompted by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' (AASHTO's) Highway Subcommittee on Construction. The effort was initiated by FHWA under the sponsorship of 18 states and administered by the Transportation Research Board (TRB).

Although there has been considerable research in each of the areas identified in the 1990 FHWA report, priorities may have changed, and further research and implementation efforts need to be assessed. At its August 1998 meeting, the AASHTO Highway Subcommittee on Construction again recognized the need for a coordinated approach to research that focuses on important priorities and implementation techniques.

Objective: The objective of this study is to develop a research program for the AASHTO Highway Subcommittee on Construction that identifies and prioritizes opportunities for improving construction engineering and management of transportation projects.

Tasks: Accomplishment of the project objective will require the following tasks: (1) Identify important short- and long-term transportation construction engineering and management issues affecting state departments of transportation (DOTs). (2) Gather information and conduct a literature search on the top (approximately 15) issues identified in Task 1. Summarize the states of knowledge and practice for each issue, evaluate past research products and implementation efforts--successes and failures--and identify barriers to implementation. Identify gaps in existing knowledge and failures in the implementation of successful research. (3) Develop a draft research program that addresses the gaps in knowledge and implementation identified in Task 2. The program shall include preliminary research problem statements (title, brief scope and objective, and estimated costs and time) to meet the important needs related to construction engineering and management of transportation projects. Recommendations for implementing the research program shall be addressed also. (4) Develop a plan and format for a workshop, not to exceed 2.5 days, to review and evaluate the draft research program, suggest modifications, and recommend priorities. The workshop will involve experts in the various subject areas and include representatives from a cross section of the transportation construction community. The meeting will be held at the National Academies' Beckman Center in Irvine, CA. The NCHRP will select workshop participants (approximately 50), provide the facility (which is equipped with the latest in audio-visual technology), and cover the costs for the travel and subsistence of invited workshop participants except for contractor personnel. The contractor will be responsible for all other activities and costs. (5) On or before November 1, 2000, submit an interim report that documents the results of Tasks 1, 3, and 4 and progress to date on Task 2. (Task 2 is considered a substantive task that will be nearing completion by the time the interim report is prepared. However, it is expected that updates and refinements to the Task 2 results will continue until the Task 7 final report is submitted.) The contractor will be expected to meet with the NCHRP--approximately 1 to 1.5 months later. (6) Conduct the workshop. (As a preliminary measure, meeting rooms have been reserved for March 5, 6, and 7, 2001, at the Beckman Center. The reservations presently will accommodate general sessions of all participants and four concurrent breakout group gatherings.) Summarize the workshop activity and results. Revise the research program and problem statements accordingly. (7) Submit the final report documenting the entire research effort. The recommended research program, including individual research problem statements, and an implementation plan shall be incorporated into the final report and also be available as a stand-alone document. The results of Task 2 will also be thoroughly and completely described and are expected to represent a significant portion of the final report documentation.

Status: Research is complete. Under a small follow-on project (NCHRP Project 10-58A), Bergstralh-Shaw-Newman, Inc., Frederick, Maryland, produced a brochure to summarize the research recommendations and to reference the availability of the University of Wisconsin's final report.

Product Availability: The agency's revised final report is available on the NCHRP website as NCHRP Web Document 51. The final report documents the entire research effort and includes a program of recommended research projects. The brochure has been distributed to the AASHTO Highway Subcommittee on Construction and can be e-mailed to others on request.

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