The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is moving swiftly following passage of the RhodeWorks legislation into law last night with the issuance of four request-for-proposals for qualified firms to assist the Department in establishing tolling systems to provide a predictable, reliable revenue stream for improving Rhode Island’s crumbling infrastructure. The proposals also will seek qualified firms to assist RIDOT in not only repairing the deficient Route 6-10 interchange, but developing a reimagined transportation corridor with an integrated transit component.
The request-for-proposal process begins with the advertisements starting today, with the selection process for these companies beginning in approximately one month and work commencing on these tasks this spring. The actual postings can be found at: www.purchasing.ri.gov/bidding/BidSearch.aspx.
«We are so very grateful to Governor Raimondo and the General Assembly for the passage of the RhodeWorks legislation so we can begin in earnest the process of rebuilding our roads and bridges and giving Rhode Islanders a transportation system they can be proud of and depend on,» RIDOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. said. «We have been saying throughout the debate on the RhodeWorks initiative that we would be ready to hit the ground running once it passes. We are running starting today.»
The request-for-proposals include:
Toll Facility Consultant – Sometimes referred to as an «owner’s representative,» this company would perform site evaluation work, permitting and develop the specifications for the tolling gantries and tolling systems. This company also will aid in the preparation of another request-for-proposal for a firm to design, build, operate and maintain the gantries and associated tolling systems. This will take approximately six months. Additionally, the toll facility consultant will remain on board through the construction of the gantries to assist RIDOT with monitoring and assurance that the design-build team is meeting all contract requirements.
Investment Grade Traffic and Revenue Consultant – This firm will develop a study, building upon the work of earlier traffic studies performed by RIDOT and by its current traffic consultant. This new study, sometimes referred to as a «Level III study,» will refine traffic models, provide more precise information on possible traffic diversion and expected revenue. This work will take approximately eight months.
Route 6/10 NEPA – This consultant will begin the environmental review process as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the reconstruction of the Route 6-10 interchange and its transit components. Initial work involves analysis of existing site conditions and constraints and the commencement of a scoping process – a public workshop-oriented process in which design alternatives are developed for the project. It is anticipated that the NEPA phase will take approximately one year to complete.
Route 6-10 Engineering – This consultant will focus on the required preliminary design work to prepare plans to advance the project into the next design phase. The consultant will also prepare a request-for-proposals for a design/build project, seeking a public-private-partnership model. This process will take approximately two years.
RIDOT will select different consulting firms for each of the four contracts. However, the consultants for the Toll Facility Consultant and Level III Traffic Study will work cooperatively as will the two Route 6-10 consultants to expeditiously move both projects forward. The collective work on the tolling gantries is estimated to have the first tolling systems operating and collecting revenue in approximately 18 months.
In addition to these new contracts, RIDOT recently began soliciting for proposals for task order contracts – an industry best practice employed by departments of transportation around the country. This approach will get future road and bridge projects ready for construction faster than before.
Under the current approach, RIDOT solicits for request-for-proposals for engineering services as projects move through the development pipeline. Each time a new project is ready for design, the process must begin again. This new approach utilizes a two-step process in which the majority of work and time involved in procuring engineering services is done up front. In the first step, RIDOT will accept request-for-proposals for qualified engineering firms, creating a pool of companies who will be eligible to compete for future road and bridge work. As RIDOT’s project managers have projects ready for design work, they will employ the second step of the process (still requiring a competitive request-for-proposal process) before assigning the work. With the firms pre-selected, this second phase will be much faster, shortening the time to get a firm working on a project from a couple of months to a couple of weeks.
The process of accepting proposals for the first step is underway now, and will conclude in early spring. RIDOT will hire design firms in categories such as bridge, highways, stormwater improvements, and facilities designs. RIDOT will further increase competition in this process by renewing the first step of consultant selection every two years. Traditionally at the Department, design contract awards have lasted several years via a series of change orders to the original agreement between the design firm and the state.
«Many of our design contracts have been in place far longer than their original intent, in some cases 30 years or more,» Director Peter Alviti Jr. said. «By moving to this new process, we’re taking steps to make government work at the speed of business, doing things more efficiently and delivering projects faster.»