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The National Academies

NCHRP 20-24(12) [Completed]

Avoiding Delays During the Construction Phase of Highway Projects
[ NCHRP 20-24 (Administration of Highway and Transportation Agencies) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $150,000
Research Agency: Pennsylvania State University
Principal Investigator: H. Randolph Thomas
Effective Date: 4/18/2000
Completion Date: 12/15/2001

Background: State departments of transportation (DOTs) and highway contractors share a common desire to complete quality constructed highway projects in a timely and cost-efficient manner. Delays in the completion of highway construction projects can result in higher costs to DOTs and contractors as well as greater inconvenience to the public. Delays can also prolong safety risks to highway users and workers in construction work zones.

Even though DOTs and highway contractors strive to avoid delays in construction and to minimize the time and costs associated with delays, they often find it difficult to control the circumstances causing delays. Some construction delays may be due to events that occur at the project-conception stage. Research is needed to investigate, identify, and evaluate the nature, cause, and origin of delays that occur during the construction phase of highway projects. Based on the results of the research, recommendations are needed on how DOTs and construction contractors can avoid delays and the costs associated with delays. Avoiding delays during the construction phase of highway projects will yield significant benefits to DOTs, highway contractors, and the public.

Objective: The objective of this research is to recommend practices, procedures, and methods that can be used to avoid delays during the construction phase of highway projects and to mitigate their impacts and associated costs. It will be necessary to (1) investigate delays that occur during the construction phase of transportation projects; (2) identify the causes of construction delays for highway projects; (3) identify the phases of highway project development (e.g., planning, design, or construction) where delays originate; and (4) investigate, identify, develop, and evaluate practices, procedures, and methods to avoid delays during construction of highway projects and to mitigate their impacts and associated costs.

Tasks: To accomplish these objectives the following tasks are recommended: (1) Review the pertinent domestic and foreign literature, ongoing research, and relevant practice related to delays in completing transportation construction projects. (2) Survey public-sector transportation agencies (state, federal, and local); construction companies; consulting engineers; and private transportation companies (e.g., pipeline and railroads) to determine the causes of construction delays and methods used to avoid and mitigate delays that occur during the construction phase. The survey should have diverse geographic distribution and include both urban and rural entities.

Based on the information obtained in Tasks 1 and 2: (3) Identify the leading causes of construction delays that originate during the construction phase of highway projects. (4) Identify pre-construction events that may lead to delays during the construction phase of highway projects. (5) Identify the methods that DOTs and contractors use to determine and collect damages for delays during the construction phase caused by third parties (i.e., entities other than DOTs or the contractor). (6) Identify, develop, evaluate, and recommend practices, procedures, and methods to determine compensation to parties (including DOTs, contractors, and other entities) damaged by delays during the construction phase of highway projects. (7) Identify, develop, evaluate, and recommend practices, procedures, and methods that DOTs and contractors can use to avoid construction delays and to mitigate the impact of delays that occur during the construction phase of highway projects. (8) Submit a final report that documents the entire research effort. The final report shall include an executive summary, and the recommended practices, procedures, and methods shall be presented in a self-contained guide. The research team may be required to meet with the NCHRP project panel to review the preliminary draft final report before incorporating panel comments into the final report.

Status: Research is complete.

Product Availability: Penn State University prepared the unedited final report and supplementary report.

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