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Experience Proves Key in Design-Build

In 1997, Terracon was selected as part of the I-15 Constructors design-build team to provide geotechnical services on what was then the largest design-build project in the United States, the $1.6-billion I-15 expansion in Salt Lake City. A few years later, Terracon was selected as part of the Southeast Corridor Constructors designbuild team to provide similar services on the $1.7-billion Colorado T-REX project.

With the knowledge and experience from two of the nation’s largest design-build projects, Terracon recognized the importance of the design-build model and the unique combination of skills necessary to help our clients be successful. In response, Terracon established a national transportation practice with a focus on bringing the knowledge, systems, innovation, and lessons learned to each new project pursuit.

According to the Design-Build Institute of America, design-build is a method of project delivery in which one entity, the designbuild team, works under a single contract with the project owner to provide design and construction services. The design-build approach encourages flexibility and creativity as design and construction occurs simultaneously. Terracon often participates in this approach with large-scale transportation projects.

Terracon’s combination of local and national experience has resulted in a significant competitive advantage to our teaming partners in the United States and Canada. We work with our local offices to understand the local agency preferences and project conditions. We take that information and combine it with the skill set of our team members to propose a different way of doing something that traditionally has always been done a certain way. An example may include ground stabilization. While use of rammed aggregate columns may be common practice, we may have a solution that uses recycled materials and equipment the contractor already has in the yard. In many cases it is not about cutting edge technology, but about identifying a new application for tried and true solutions. Another advantage of our approach to design-build and public private partnerships is our approach to risk management. We believe that risk is more than factors of safety and that evaluation of risk must be a team approach. We provide options based on a probabilistic approach and work with the team to determine what provides the best value to our team and ultimately to the owner.

Partnering and collaboration are pivotal in a designbuild environment, where the number of issues requiring decisions and the speed of decisionmaking increase sharply from that of traditional design-bid-build projects. Terracon’s staff of more than 2,500 employee-owners, accredited laboratory facilities in 39 states, and one of the largest private drilling fleets in the nation makes our services valuable in design-build situations.