TRB Watch: Construction Manager-at-Risk Project Delivery for Highway Programs

by Russell Houston

Here’s the latest research from the Transportation Research Board (TRB):

Construction Manager-at-Risk Project Delivery for Highway Programs

Construction Manager-at-Risk (CMR) project delivery (also called Construction Manager/ General Contractor or CM/GC) is an integrated team approach to the planning, design, and construction of a highway project, to control schedule and budget, and to ensure quality for the project owner. The team consists of the owner; the designer, who might be an in-house engineer; and the at-risk construction manager. The aim of this project delivery method is to engage at-risk construction expertise early in the design process to enhance constructability, manage risk, and facilitate concurrent execution of design and construction without the owner relinquishing control over the details of design as it would in a design-build project.

CMR project delivery has long been used in the building industry, but the use of CMR for federal-aid transportation projects requires Special Experimental Projects Number 14 approval. As a result, its use is relatively new in highway projects. A number of state and local transportation agencies have undertaken or experimented with CMR project delivery on road, bridge, and other projects.

To further expand knowledge on the CMR project delivery process within the highway industry, TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis 402: Construction Manager-at-Risk Project Delivery for Highway Programs explores current methods in which state departments of transportation and other public engineering agencies are applying CMR project delivery to their construction projects. The synthesis identifies three different models for CMR project delivery in use, and examines practices and lessons learned that have been gleaned from the experiences of seven highway case studies and case studies from the airport, rail transit, and building industries.

Russell Houston is senior communications officer for the Transportation Research Board (TRB). He may be contacted at