JEFFERSON CITY - They say there's a silver lining to every black cloud.
For Missouri transportation, that silver lining is project cost savings that are being used to perform additional highway and bridge work at a time when revenues are on the decline. The cost savings can be attributed to the Missouri Department of Transportation's "radical cost control" philosophy, as well as to increased competition in the construction industry.
For the fiscal year that ended June 30, MoDOT awarded 461 projects totaling $1.3 billion 9 percent under budget for a savings of more than $135 million. The work included 103 recovery act projects and a design-build contract that included 554 bridges to be fixed under the Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program.
For the last five fiscal years, MoDOT has awarded 2,151 projects costing $5.7 billion 5.5 percent under budget saving taxpayers more than $334 million. The savings to taxpayers went even deeper during that five-year period because the department completed 2,241 projects worth more than $6.3 billion more than one percent under budget saving $64.8 million.
"We put these cost savings right back into our highways," MoDOT Director Pete Rahn said. "We do a good job of estimating our projects and we work aggressively with our contractors to cut costs without compromising quality. That translates into more projects and jobs and safer highways."
Keeping down costs is a philosophy that runs deep throughout MoDOT, Rahn said. "You can practically hear our employees chanting ‘better, faster, cheaper' as they work," he quipped.
One of the department's most successful cost control measures is its Practical Design initiative which ensures projects are designed to fix specific needs without the frills. Other cost-curbing tools range from rebidding projects to allowing contractors to propose innovative ways to accomplish the work. That could mean using alternate materials, coming up with improved designs, working off-hours and closing lanes.
Rahn said his department's commitment to completing projects on time and within budget is reflected in the fact that 89 percent of Missourians say they trust MoDOT to keep its commitments to the public.
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