DOT commissioner announces first design-build project

Acting New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Fran O’Connor on Thursday said his agency would advertise its first design-build project later this year.

Design-build projects mark a shift for the agency and how it awards projects. With billions of dollars of projects on the books in the coming years on the heels of the Transportation Trust Fund being renewed, the announcement could lead to seismic changes for engineering firms and contractors.

Michael Caruso from Carbro Constructors Corp., from left, with New Jersey Alliance for Action President Jerry Keenan and acting New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Fran O’Connor.

O’Connor broke the news during the New Jersey Alliance for Action meeting at Forsgate Country Club. O’Connor was the featured speaker at the Alliance’s Inside Scoop series.

Design-build jobs offer a unique approach to project delivery, combining design and construction services in a single contract. This integrated approach provides numerous benefits, including: streamlining communication; collaboration between the architect and contractor; accelerated project schedules; increased efficiency; and cost savings.

“This important change to how publicly funded construction projects are awarded in the state will improve the project delivery process and foster opportunities for innovation and cost savings,” O’Connor said. “Design-build creates design and construction teams, streamlining the process and eliminating potential risks before they could delay project delivery.”

O’Connor said the first New Jersey DOT project using the design-build delivery method will be a full bridge replacement in Cape May County. The Route 50 bridge over Cedar Swamp Creek in Upper Township is part of New Jersey’s coastal evacuation route.

O’Connor was named acting commissioner earlier this year, following Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti’s transition to Gov. Phil Murphy’s chief of staff.