Appendix C: Documented Case Studies

Case #1 - New York City Transit (NYCT)/63rd Street Connection Project

Case # 2 ­ Port Authority of Allegheny County West Busway/Wabash HOV Facility Project

Case # 3 ­ Houston METRO/ Louisiana Street Reconstruction Project

Case # 4 ­ Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA)/Preliminary Engineering for Downtown Multi-Modal Transportation Terminal (MMTT)

Case # 5 ­ Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) ­ Metrorail

Case # 6 ­ Tren Urbano / Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority (PRHTA)

Case #7 ­ Montgomery County Department of Public Works and Transportation, Maryland/Shady Grove Parking Structure 2


QA/QC CASE STUDY #1

New York City Transit (NYCT)/63rd Street Connection Project

Delivery Method

Design-Bid-Build

Project Description

  • One-third mile of new tunnel construction to connect the 63rd Street tunnel in Manhattan to the Queens Boulevard Line in Long Island City, Queens and relieve congestion in the existing 53rd Street tunnel.
  • The project also consisted of widening the Queens Boulevard subway line between Queens Plaza and 36th Street in order to accommodate new ramps from the 63rd Street tunnel to come up between the local and express rail tracks in both directions.
  • Other project components included new ventilation plants, pump rooms, circuit breaker houses, substations, tunnel lighting, computer-based control systems, communications equipment, and property acquisition.
  • The project was completed while regular subway operations continued. Final track and signal work was completed in September 2001.
  • The project was divided into five phases from project planning to testing and start-up. Innovative construction techniques were applied during the early tunnel excavation and underpinning phases.

Total Project Cost

$645 million

Timeline/Milestones

Construction Start

June 1994

Service Began

January 2001

   

Lessons Learned

The 63rd Street Connection Project to the Queens Boulevard Lines is a very large and complex subway project that has involved six construction contracts and various construction activities including cut and cover, drill and blast, and pit and beam underpinning tunneling methods. Construction has spanned over 7 years while the subway has been in full operation.

The project required that all general contractors possess a quality program, which NYCT monitored and evaluated. The agency also initiated and successfully implemented a quality program for the project. This program was originally intended to ensure contractor conformance for quality and safety, but evolved into a more comprehensive tool to support continuous improvements of methods and products. It was also accepted by all project participants (i.e., contractors, NYCT program personnel, designers, FTA, MTA, and their respective oversight consultants), ensuring strong and dynamic partnerships that minimized rework, improved communications, and provided guidance. The lessons identified by the NYCT in the documented project lessons learned of October 2000 involved three key elements of the quality program ­ (1) preparatory phase construction inspection, (2) contractor performance rating system, and (3) just-in-time training ­ and are detailed below.

Lesson 1.  Emphasis on the Preparatory Phase of Construction

An emphasis on the preparation phase of each new construction activity enabled project participants to coordinate their efforts and review the upcoming work together to ensure that the job was done right the first time and expeditiously. A preparatory phase before construction is specified by NYCT contracts; however, the first time it was fully implemented was in the 63rd Street project. Previously, preparatory activities for construction performed by contractors were limited in scope and independent of the NYCT. Consequently, the NYCT began requiring several joint procedures before all major construction so that all activities were understood and coordinated, to clearly communicate expectations about the final product, and to limit nonconformance. These goals were accomplished by a series of meetings and other activities identified by the NYCT, which included:

a. Review of Contract Requirements with the Contractor

This is a joint effort with the contractor to review the status of submittals (i.e., materials, shop drawings, procedures, and methods); clarify installation methods; define records to be maintained; develop checklists; determine hold and witness points; outline responsibilities; identify critical safety issues; and assess training needs for NYCT and contractor staff.

b. Review of Physical Field Conditions

This is another joint effort by the NYCT, contractors, installers, the contractor's quality engineer, and the designer's field engineers to ensure that the scheduled work is ready to be performed according to a risk assessment; the availability of materials, workers, and equipment on the site; the condition of the work site; and sample work already completed (where applicable).

c. Kick-off Meeting/Summary of Preparation Phase

The kick-off meeting brings together all members of the team to discuss preparatory phase findings, points out concern, and reach agreement on the process of upcoming work. Attendees from NYCT usually included the field engineer, resident engineer, representative from the user group, project QA personnel, project safety personnel, and specialized consultant. The contractor is usually represented by the installer (superintendent and foreman), quality assurance engineer, safety engineer, and project manager. Agenda items at the meeting include discussion of the work approach, action plan, requirements, anticipated difficulties, and a contingency plan.

d. Leadership

The highest ranking NYCT project executive, usually the program manager, personally discusses with the field engineers and contractors the importance of preparations to construction, periodically attending preparatory phase meetings to reinforce the message.

The results from the enhanced preparatory phase of the quality program identified during the 63rd Street Connection project included:

  • Better relationships between contract parties;
  • Contractors (who were initially reluctant to participate) became more active participants;
  • Preparatory phase inspections and consequent revisions to the work plan assisted the contractors in meeting budget and schedule targets;
  • The original design was improved from consultant and contractor input;
  • NYCT was able to provide better support to contractors and field staff;
  • A baseline agreement was established that provided guidance when discrepancies arose; and most importantly,
  • The vast majority of the work was performed correctly, minimizing punchlist items, rework, and the turnover time of the project.

Lesson 2.  Measuring Contractor Compliance

A second key lesson learned during the 63rd Street Connection project involved the contractor performance rating system that measured contractor compliance and became a driving force for improvement.

In the very beginning of the project, the NYCT evaluated all six, project contractors on the implementation of their quality programs on a quarterly basis. The outcome of the original process was a qualitative attribute rating (i.e., satisfactory, needs improvement, and unsatisfactory) that did not satisfy the NYCT, contractors, or oversight agencies. As a result and in partnership with the contractors, the NYCT developed a more objective numeric ratings criteria and evaluation process of contractor performance. The process was consistently implemented every quarter and for each contractor until project close-out. The goals were to "create a performance evaluation system to ensure consistent ratings for satisfactory performance, recognize success and outstanding results with uniformity for all six contractors." The steps involved in the new rating system are listed below.

a. Ten basic "elements" of the contractor's quality program evaluated:

1. Quality organization

2. Submittal management and document control

3. Receiving, handling and storage of materials and equipment

4. Subcontractor and supplier control

5. Inspection and test program

6. Control of construction processes

7. Control of measuring and testing equipment

8. Control of nonconforming conditions

9. Internal audits

10. Documentation by quality records.

b. Quarterly evaluations were performed on five of the ten elements as identified by NYCT and each contractor, including two key elements that were evaluated every quarter ­ "control of nonconforming conditions" and "inspection and test program." All ten elements were evaluated at least once per year.

c. Under the new system, each quality program element was evaluated for the approach or planning, deployment or implementation, and results or effectiveness. Therefore, a successful element is evident from a combination of planning, implementation, and demonstrated results.

d. In scoring an element, several "checkpoints" were verified and evaluated. These checkpoints can be documentation or construction activities, depending on the element or nature of the work observed. The checkpoints are rated up to 30 points for being complete (planned), up to 40 points for being current and correct (implemented as planned), and up to 30 points for achieving the desired results. The ratings are tabulated directly on the checkpoint forms along with comments and an average score is calculated for each element.

e. An overall contractor rating for the quarter is simply the average of the five individual element scores for the quarter. The contractor's performance is considered "satisfactory" if the final rating is greater than 75 points, "needs improvement" if between 50 and 75 points, and "unsatisfactory" if less than 50 points.

f. The contractor is allowed to review and comment on the preliminary ratings during a 48-hour grace period. The construction manager approves the final ratings.

As a result of this document review and compliance process, the NYCT saw steady progress from the contractors in achieving quality program requirements. Outstanding contractors were also recognized from the ratings process. In sum, the majority of the work for the project was done right and with minimal rework. The results justify the application of this process to other projects and contracts.

Lesson 3.  Just-In-Time Training

Training was once viewed as taking time away from "real work" and a "costly overhead expense." However, the experience of NYCT in the 63rd Street Connection project has proven that proper and timely training can provide large returns by eliminating direct charges for rework and mistakes, and providing a safer and more productive work environment.

The challenges faced by NYCT that prompted the creation of a specific project training program, known as New Routes, included:

The NYCT program staff that managed the project ranged from veterans and experts to college interns or others with no experience in the construction methods proposed.

Standard construction hazards were exacerbated on this project by continuous subway operations, stability issues of surrounding buildings, and highway settlement.

While conscious of project and contractor budget constraints, quality and an effective interface of the program team to many disciplines and contractors were critical concerns.

The objectives of the New Routes training program were to focus on near future work activities to provide "just-in-time" training, improve the field engineering skills, increase quality and safety awareness, and help with self-improvement and team building. Therefore, the scope of the training program included technical engineering disciplines, specific work element installation processes, field engineering, construction management, project management, QA/QC procedures, general and project specific safety, and team building. The instructors came from a variety of backgrounds, both inside and outside the project, as dictated by the training needs. They included outside experts, project managers, project team members with specialized knowledge, contractors, consultants, and FTA and MTA oversight consultants. The training was organized more like workshops rather than lectures. In fact, a number of sessions were conducted in the field to demonstrate tasks such as waterproofing, rail weld grinding, jet grouting, and concrete placement. Other training sessions were held in the project offices.

The training participants included NYCT field and office personnel on the project, user/maintenance groups, QA, safety, contractors, consultants, and project management oversight consultants. The twice-a-week training sessions were scheduled in advance, and usually fell on the same time and day of the week or at night to encourage participation from the night shift of this 24-hour operation. A training database was developed using Microsoft Access to record the training completed by each participant. This tool allowed the project to maintain an inventory of skills and disciplines and further identify the needs.

Part of the success of the training program was due to its constant emphasis by the project leadership. Although the quality representative within the program group administered the training program, the project manager did follow up on training status and attendance, and was one of the most enthusiastic participants of the sessions. Training needs and results were discussed at biweekly staff meetings and monthly quality update meetings. A training summary, including future schedules and reports, was issued monthly. Each course had a written outline and other handout materials that became a part of the technical library. The sessions were also evaluated by the participants who provided feedback to the instructors.

The results of the New Routes training program are characterized by the NYCT as a general increase in the level of professional and technical skills. About 120 sessions were held from 1995 to 1999 that included topics such as scheduling, specifications, concrete, signal design, steel installation, general orders, waterproofing, blasting, ISO 9000 quality standards, and utilities with over 1800 participants attending. The training ensured that project safety indicators exceeded industry standards, that the proper material was installed, and that proper procedures were followed. For instance, a session on the rail weld grinding process and inspection criteria was given after mistakes and defects prompted the stop of all work on this task. After the training, no additional defects were detected. Specialized outside knowledge also enhanced productivity and reduced mistakes. For example, the NYCT inspectors received training on two complicated construction procedures, jet grouting and slurry walls.

Finally, the NYCT also believes that training improved morale and strengthened relationships between the people who performed the work and those who provide oversight. In the end, the majority of the project work was completed correctly with little to no rework and the NYCT has recommended the training program on future projects.

 

QA/QC CASE STUDY #2

Port Authority of Allegheny County West Busway/Wabash HOV Facility Project

Delivery Method

Design-Bid-Build

Project Description

Included:

  • Constructing 5 miles of exclusive bus right-of-way and associated access ramps
  • Constructing 6 stations
  • Constructing 6 park and ride facilities
  • Constructing 4,936 linear feet of noise walls
  • Reconstructing the Berry Street Tunnel
  • Reconstructing the Wabash Tunnel

Cost/Funding

Project Cost

$326.8 million

Timeline/Milestones

Construction Date

October 27, 1994

Busway Opens

September 8, 2000

Completion Date

Minor construction remained on ramps and other contracts were let on park and ride facilities, which were still in construction as of December 2001.

Lessons Learned

The West Busway/Wabash HOV Facility Project is a very large project that has involved numerous contractors, 89 as of 6/30/00. While construction has spanned over 7 years and, although the busway is in operation, minor construction is still in progress. Implementing the FTA’s Quality Assurance and Quality Control Guidelines on all of their projects has always been a priority with the Port Authority. However, “How to go beyond and use the guidelines to deliver a quality product?” on a construction project of this magnitude was the burning question in the minds of the Director of Civil Engineering and Quality and the Construction Manager. They did not believe that it was just enough to simply identify the requirement for a quality system in each of the numerous contract specifications. They also knew that most of the contractors would not be large entities that possessed quality staff personnel. Rather, they knew that the majority of the contractors would be small companies who, while capable of doing quality work, did not possess quality systems, against which they could be evaluated.

The Port Authority knew that the process of having the contractors tailor the quality system guidelines to fit the contractors’ individual needs would be long and cumbersome with so many contractors involved in the project. Furthermore, they knew that the probability that the respective quality plans would all be consistent would be next to impossible. Finally, they knew that a quality plan for a large contractor would usually consist of more elements than a quality plan for a smaller contractor, based upon their individual scope of work.

The solution to this challenge came in the form of two sets of Port Authority guidelines that would lead the individual contractors through the process of developing a quality system and plan that would be tailored to the individual contractor’s needs. The Port Authority developed these guidelines and entitled them “Guidelines for the Creation of a Quality Plan” and “Guidelines for the Creation of a Quality Plan (Minimum Requirements).”

These guidelines list general requirements for each of the FTA Guideline fifteen elements, followed by a series of questions that are answered by the contractor in order to prepare a tailored quality system and plan. In addition, the Port Authority guidelines include various tools for use by the contractors, such as:

  • A Responsibility Matrix
  • An Engineering Change Notice Form
  • A Document Control Matrix
  • A Quality System Procedure Outline
  • A Standard Operating Procedure Outline
  • A Supplier Site Audit Checklist
  • An Equipment Maintenance Log
  • A Calibration Record Form
  • A Nonconformance/Corrective Action Report Form
  • A Summary of Nonconformance Reports Form
  • A Process Audit Checklist
  • An Employee Qualification/Training Record Form

By providing these guidelines to the individual contractors and then meeting with them, along with other key members of the project team, the Port Authority was assured that:

  • Each of the contractors, whether large or small, was able to develop a quality system and plan in a fast, cost effective manner.
  • The resulting quality systems and plans satisfied the requirements of the FTA guidelines, possessed the necessary quality elements, and were consistent from plan to plan.
  • Every aspect of the West Busway/HOV Facility Project was implemented using a quality system.

 

QA/QC CASE STUDY #3

Houston METRO/Louisiana Street Reconstruction Project

Delivery Method

Design-Bid-Build

Project Description

  • Reconstruction of 34 blocks of a major thoroughfare running through the heart of downtown and midtown Houston as part of a $250 million Downtown/Midtown Transit Streets Project.
  • Project components included street and sidewalk construction, upgrade of major public and private utilities, drainage enhancements, provision of diamond lanes for bus and carpool use, transit shelters and information kiosks, widened sidewalks, traffic signalization, landscaping and public art elements.
  • The project was constructed under three separate, sequential contracts. Major funding contributors included METRO, FTA, City of Houston and Downtown District.
  • Houston METRO provided the project management and hired design consultants. A construction management consultant provided CM services under METRO supervision. Onsite testing was performed by independent testing lab under contract to METRO.

Total Project Cost

$ 24.7 million

Timeline/Milestones

Start Dates

Segment 3 - July 1998

Segment 1 ­ February 1999

Segment 2 ­ August 2000.

Duration

Three years, four months

Lessons Learned

The Louisiana Street reconstruction project is part of a larger work program in downtown Houston under the supervision of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO). For the three contracts issued, METRO standard specification (section 01450) “Procedures and Quality Control” governed contractor QA/QC requirements for Segments 1 and 3, and METRO standard specification (section 01451) “Project Quality Control” governed contractor QA/QC requirements for Segment 2. The owner's quality assurance plan was prepared in accordance with METRO’s “Construction Quality Management Program” and the contractor QA/QC plans were prepared for each of the three contracts in accordance with the provisions of specification sections 01450 and 01451.

The following are project lessons learned as provided by METRO staff.

Lesson 1. Plan on training and extended follow-up when implementing a major change to the QA/QC program.

In 1998 METRO adopted its “Construction Quality Management Program” and associated specifications. Significant responsibilities for project quality control activities (i.e. planning, inspection, testing, reporting and records preparation) were shifted from construction management (CM) personnel to the contractor’s quality control manager (CQCM). In the past, CM personnel had performed virtually all of the above listed functions. To familiarize the CM staff (both in-house and consultant personnel) with details of the new program, training sessions were conducted as implementation began. Early contractor submittals included Contractor QA/QC Plan and designation of CQCM. Informal contractor training included extensive plan review, mandatory QA/QC orientation meetings and active participation by METRO's QA Manager in early contractor QC activities, including weekly project meetings and the three-phase inspection process mandated by the program. Quality audits were conducted early in the construction contract to review daily inspection reports, test results and other required quality documents. Weekly project meeting agenda was designed to include quality issues including periodic review of contractor maintained “as-built” drawings. These training and monitoring activities were useful in the implementation of the program.

Lesson 2. The monthly line item payment for “full time” contractor quality control manager (CQCM) was determined to not be cost effective and QA/QC specifications were revised to eliminate this provision.

The inclusion of contract provisions to compensate contractors for the expenses of a dedicated CQCM was designed to address contractors’ concerns, expressed during the partnering process during development of METRO's “Construction Quality Management Program”. Contractors had argued that the proposed QA/QC provisions would result in added personnel costs and compensation should be made. Because METRO had traditionally structured roadway type construction contracts on a unit price bid basis, a pay item was included in the bid documents for contracts including the newly developed specification section 01450 “Procedures and Quality Control”. Experience gained through the QA/QC process on Louisiana Street Segments 1 and 3, as well as other contracts underway at that time, led METRO to the conclusion that it was virtually impossible to assure that the CQCM was devoting full-time effort exclusively to QC activities. The availability of an experienced, well-qualified quality manager on the contractor’s project staff invariably led to the assignment of other duties than those which were specifically quality related. CQCM personnel were observed functioning as assistant project manager or project engineer from time to time. Since METRO was unable to assure that CQCM worked exclusively on quality related matter, the specifications and approach were revised to better reflect reality. Monthly payment for the CQCM was eliminated, as was the requirement that that individual be employed on quality related duties on a full time basis. Specification section 01451 “Project Quality Control” was modified and further developed to reflect these and other changes and was adopted as the QA/QC standard specification governing most major construction contracts subsequently undertaken by METRO. Louisiana Street Segment 2, the third and final contract of Louisiana Street Reconstruction utilized specification 01451. The change has not led to any observable reduction in contractor quality program, has permitted easier migration of quality personnel between jobs to contractors holding multiple METRO contracts, and has reduced cost.

Lesson 3. Significant variations between bid quantities and actual paid quantities resulted in changes to procedures for establishing final quantity takeoffs included in bid documents and also to procedures for tracking installed quantities by CM personnel.

The Louisiana Street Reconstruction contracts were structured on a unit price basis as is customary for most roadway/utility contracts in the Houston area. Early on, METRO experienced numerous variations between planned and installed quantities. The resulting change orders to address quantity variations attracted management attention and direction for corrective action. Initially the problem was assumed to be errors in the final takeoffs prepared by the design consultants responsible for the bid documents. While in some instances takeoff errors did occur, it was also found that differing site conditions sometimes necessitated field changes resulting in quantity overruns. For example, new utility lines frequently had to be rerouted to avoid conflict with existing unrecorded utilities uncovered in the course of construction. Additional pipe, manholes or other features often resulted from these field changes. At the completion of the job, quantity variations could be substantial.

The corrective action plan focused on design, estimating and construction management procedures in an effort to reduce takeoff errors and to properly track valid quantity variations. Final quantity takeoffs are to be performed and checked by the design consultant. In addition, an independent estimating consultant is to perform a quantity takeoff and produce a variance report identifying any differences in quantities reported. Finally, the design consultant is responsible for reconciliation of any differences based on the variance report. As further insurance against overruns, the project manager is to apply a contingency factor to those quantities that have historically experienced overruns due to changed conditions.

Tracking of actual quantities versus planned quantities has been emphasized in construction management practice. Our procedures provide for a constructability review performed by the CM consultant that furnishes the resident engineer and inspector(s) for the contract. Quantities are subject to particular emphasis during this final review of bid-ready documents. Additionally, the means of payment for installed bid items has been automated. Prior to the adoption of a common software program (now used on all Downtown/Midtown Transit Street contracts), installed quantities were entered in manual logbooks and reconciled with the contractors’ invoice with each pay application. Among other benefits, this software includes a column showing the percentage of each bid item installed based on the original bid quantity. The means for early identification of items that will potentially overrun the estimate is readily available.  Data is updated with each pay application. The adoption of these new procedures and preventive action plan resulted from root cause evaluation and is expected to prevent or better predict quantity variations in future contracts.

 

QA/QC CASE STUDY #4

Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA)/Preliminary Engineering for Downtown Multi-Modal Transportation Terminal (MMTT)

Project Description

Includes design for:

  • New 12-bay, express bus terminal with entry/exits off High and Front Streets in downtown Columbus, Ohio
  • Ticketing/waiting/retail mezzanine levels
  • 28,000 square foot facility for future COTA Administration
  • Proposed site is over active freight rail lines, also proposed for future commuter/Amtrak service

Estimated Construction Cost

$34 million

Timeline/Milestones

Prelim. Engineering

October 2000 ­ December 2001

Final Design

June 2002 ­ June 2003 (tentative)

Construction

September 2003 ­ December 2005 (tentative)

Lessons Learned

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), in cooperation with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), has been pursuing the development of a multimodal transportation center in downtown Columbus for a number of years. According to the MORPC 2025 Transportation Plan, this center will have the ability to accommodate a variety of modes including taxis, buses, intercity rail service, future transit services, and bicycle and pedestrian traffic. The facility and surrounding area is also planned for a number of joint development uses including concessions, hotel, commercial, office, residential, and parking.

In 1994, MORPC completed a study to site the proposed multimodal transportation terminal (MMTT). The resulting location at High Street and Nationwide Boulevard would be accessible from the convention center and major downtown office buildings, and would integrate the new and proposed developments on the northern edge of downtown. Since then, COTA has worked with the railroads to conduct early surveys of the site and formulate legal agreements to pursue preliminary engineering work. Additionally, COTA has been fostering relationships with potential development partners to assist with financing the project. A market study performed in 2001 provided COTA with information on the types and amount of development that the MMTT site and facility would support.

One of the biggest challenges encountered with the project arose from subsequent discussions with CSX and NS Railroads. The proposed project site is directly over a junction of the CSX Buckeye Line and NS Cincinnati Line from the west that essentially shares a double-track right-of-way eastward. The site at track level is already heavily congested with existing columns from various street and roadway bridges above. The design for the new building structural support system has to accommodate future utilities, platforms, escalators and elevators to support future passenger rail service and provide the necessary vertical and horizontal clearance operating envelopes required by the railroads. The combination of these design requirements proved to be extremely challenging.

Further complicating the design process were the necessary engineering review periods by the railroads. COTA staff had little or no control over the process and had difficulty maintaining other pertinent timetables for the project. Although cooperative, it was difficult to gauge progress of reviews by the railroads since they were understandably more concerned with direct business-related initiatives. Nonetheless, COTA was eventually able to secure conditional approvals of the design by the railroads, with the understanding that COTA staff would continue to work with the railroad’s local and regional engineering and operating staff.

The key lesson from the project's preliminary engineering phase is that it is important not to underestimate or randomly dismiss the requirements of Class I railroads when working within their operating environment. This is true not only in terms of review times, but also in estimating applicable construction costs. Under these circumstances, the factors in cost estimation should include engineering review time, flagging costs for surveying (which is also necessary during construction), drainage, crash walls, etc.

 

QA/QC CASE STUDY #5

Washington Metropolitan
Area Transit Authority (WMATA) - Metrorail

Delivery Method

Design-Bid-Build

Project Description

The 103-mile Adopted Regional Metrorail System in Metropolitan Washington was completed in January 2001 after a 32-year construction effort by WMATA. The engineering and construction of this heavy rail transit system is considered one of the largest single public works projects of its type in the United States.

During the first phase of the system's construction (89.5 miles), construction duration of a “typical “ station and a line section from the start of excavation to systems testing and start-up was 50 and 60 months, respectively. For the second phase of the construction program (13.5 miles), construction duration of a “typical” station and a line section from the start of the excavation to systems testing and start-up was 45 and 50 months, respectively. The second phase fast-track construction program included the following projects completed from June 1997 to January 2001:

  • Blue Line from Van Dorn Street to Franconia-Springfield: $74.7 million
  • Red Line from Wheaton to Glenmont: $52 million
  • Green Line from U St-Cardozo to Fort Totten: $7.1 million
  • Green Line extension from Anacostia to Branch Ave: $145.4 million

Presently, two design-build contracts are being considered for a Blue Line Extension to Largo scheduled for completion within 42 months, for both track (3.1 miles) and 2 stations with parking, respectively.

Total Project Cost

$9.4 billion (uninflated cost of first and second phases of Metrorail)

Timeline/Milestones

First Phase Groundbreaking

December 1969

First Segment Opens

March 1976

2nd Phase Completed

January 2001

Lessons Learned

WMATA's Construction Contract Quality Assurance Program:  WMATA required a Contractor Quality Control System (CQCS) in major civil construction contracts (in excess of $10 million), from the mid 1980's through 2001. The construction contracts included minimum requirements for the CQCS and instructed contractors to describe the CQCS in a Quality Plan that was to be submitted and approved by WMATA prior to the start of work. Upon approval, WMATA's Resident Engineer and QA/QC staff monitored the implementation and effectiveness of the CQCS through field observations, inspections and audits.

The success of the CQCS program varied depending upon the attitude of the contractor's job site personnel towards the CQCS program and the willingness of the contractor personnel to work as a team. Many contractors believed that the CQCS added little value to contractor operations. QA/QC staff was viewed as a contract requirement as opposed to an essential part of the project staff. In those instances where the CQCS program was successful, the CQCS staff performed as an integral part of the Contractor’s job site team and was fully involved in the planning and execution of the work.

WMATA attempted to motivate Contractors to have a more positive attitude towards the CQCS program by introducing a Quality Awareness Program (QAP). The QAP included payments to the contractor for implementing an effective CQCS. The value of the QAP equaled 1% of the bid items and was included in the total bid price. QAP payments were made monthly if the CQCS was effective. Payments withheld because of an ineffective CQCS were forfeited and the value of the contract was reduced accordingly.

The contract included specific conditions that had to be met in order for a QAP payment to be made. The conditions were mandatory and not up to the discretion of the Resident Engineer. QAP payments were not paid in those months according to the following conditions:

  • Payment was denied for a portion of the work that was determined to be deficient and non-compliant.
  • The Engineer had determined that the contractor had installed unapproved or unsatisfactory material, components, or equipment.
  • The Engineer had notified the contractor of deviations from the contract requirements for work in progress that resulted in the stoppage of the production of the work activity.
  • The Engineer had written one or more stop work orders because work in progress was not in compliance with the contract requirements.
  • The Engineer has provided more than three written notices, for work performed within the payment period, to initiate corrective action on construction work, procedures, or operations that do not meet the contract requirements.
  • The Contracting Officer had determined that one or more of the Engineer's written corrective action or deviation notices demonstrate the severity, repetitive nature, or criticality of circumstances that the CQCS staff and/or procedures were not effectively controlling the quality of construction.
  • The CQCS had been without the service of the approved full-time CQCS Manager and/or staff except where absences were for bona fide emergencies and the Contractor took appropriate steps, in the Engineer's judgment, to continue effective control of the quality.

WMATA anticipated that the QAP would motivate contractors possessing a marginal or ineffective CQCS to raise performance to an acceptable level. The QAP was introduced as a trial on a single contract in 1990. The contractor had previously performed work for WMATA and was familiar with the CQCS requirements. The contractor initially proposed a CQCS Manager who was unacceptable to WMATA. However, the second proposed candidate was found to be acceptable and was approved. The CQCS Manager proved to be an effective member of the project team and was recognized by the contractor as an asset to the project organization. An effective CQCS was implemented and the full QAP payment was made. The QAP did appear to motivate the contractor to have an effective CQCS although the trial itself was not conclusive.

The QAP was included in some subsequent contracts. Multiple QAP payments were withheld on two separate contracts with little or no improvement in CQCS effectiveness. One of the two contractors who had QAP payments withheld had also been awarded a contract without the QAP. Ironically, the contractor's CQCS on the contract without the QAP was highly effective and was viewed as a model for the rest of the WMATA contracting community. The CQCS was successfully implemented on this contract because the CQCS Manager effectively worked with the contractor's project staff in planning the work and thereby managed to prevent costly errors. Based on these results, WMATA had discontinued the QAP.

 

QA/QC CASE STUDY #4

Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA)/Preliminary Engineering for Downtown Multi-Modal Transportation Terminal (MMTT)

Project Description

Includes design for:

  • New 12-bay, express bus terminal with entry/exits off High and Front Streets in downtown Columbus, Ohio
  • Ticketing/waiting/retail mezzanine levels
  • 28,000 square foot facility for future COTA Administration
  • Proposed site is over active freight rail lines, also proposed for future commuter/Amtrak service

Estimated Construction Cost

$34 million

Timeline/Milestones

Prelim. Engineering

October 2000 ­ December 2001

Final Design

June 2002 ­ June 2003 (tentative)

Construction

September 2003 ­ December 2005 (tentative)

Lessons Learned

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), in cooperation with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), has been pursuing the development of a multimodal transportation center in downtown Columbus for a number of years. According to the MORPC 2025 Transportation Plan, this center will have the ability to accommodate a variety of modes including taxis, buses, intercity rail service, future transit services, and bicycle and pedestrian traffic. The facility and surrounding area is also planned for a number of joint development uses including concessions, hotel, commercial, office, residential, and parking.

In 1994, MORPC completed a study to site the proposed multimodal transportation terminal (MMTT). The resulting location at High Street and Nationwide Boulevard would be accessible from the convention center and major downtown office buildings, and would integrate the new and proposed developments on the northern edge of downtown. Since then, COTA has worked with the railroads to conduct early surveys of the site and formulate legal agreements to pursue preliminary engineering work. Additionally, COTA has been fostering relationships with potential development partners to assist with financing the project. A market study performed in 2001 provided COTA with information on the types and amount of development that the MMTT site and facility would support.

One of the biggest challenges encountered with the project arose from subsequent discussions with CSX and NS Railroads. The proposed project site is directly over a junction of the CSX Buckeye Line and NS Cincinnati Line from the west that essentially shares a double-track right-of-way eastward. The site at track level is already heavily congested with existing columns from various street and roadway bridges above. The design for the new building structural support system has to accommodate future utilities, platforms, escalators and elevators to support future passenger rail service and provide the necessary vertical and horizontal clearance operating envelopes required by the railroads. The combination of these design requirements proved to be extremely challenging.

Further complicating the design process were the necessary engineering review periods by the railroads. COTA staff had little or no control over the process and had difficulty maintaining other pertinent timetables for the project. Although cooperative, it was difficult to gauge progress of reviews by the railroads since they were understandably more concerned with direct business-related initiatives. Nonetheless, COTA was eventually able to secure conditional approvals of the design by the railroads, with the understanding that COTA staff would continue to work with the railroad’s local and regional engineering and operating staff.

The key lesson from the project's preliminary engineering phase is that it is important not to underestimate or randomly dismiss the requirements of Class I railroads when working within their operating environment. This is true not only in terms of review times, but also in estimating applicable construction costs. Under these circumstances, the factors in cost estimation should include engineering review time, flagging costs for surveying (which is also necessary during construction), drainage, crash walls, etc.

 

QA/QC CASE STUDY #6

Tren Urbano / Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority (PRHTA)

Delivery Method

Hybrid (Design-Build and Design-Build-Operate-Maintain)

Project Description

Phase I of the project includes:

  • 17.2-kilometer heavy rail line in the San Juan Metropolitan Area serving Bayamón, Guaynabo, the Medical Center, University of Puerto Rico/Río Piedras, Hato Rey and Santurce.
  • 16 stations and a maintenance yard
  • About 50% of alignment makes use of existing right-of-way
  • More than half of the alignment is elevated, the remainder is at-grade or underground

Total Project Cost

$1.68 billion

Timeline/Milestones

Construction Start

1996

Completion Date

2003 (expected)

Quality Program Features and Lessons Learned

The Tren Urbano project is a very large transit project and the first of its kind in Puerto Rico or the Caribbean. As one of five "turnkey" demonstration projects selected by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), one of its goals was to demonstrate advantages in project time reduction, cost savings, and new technology introduction over traditional delivery methods. However, the project has been delayed and current costs are more than 30% over initial estimates. Nonetheless, the project has demonstrated innovative techniques in project delivery combining six design-build contracts for fixed facilities and sections of the alignment, with one design-build-operate-maintain (DBOM) contract awarded to the Siemens Transit Team (STTT) for the systems, vehicles, control center, maintenance yard, and a seventh alignment section to be used as a test track. The table below presents some details of each contract and an eighth contract awarded by the project for QC oversight assistance.

Associated Table

The contracts for all design-build segments of the project, except Río Priedas, required the section contractors to hire an independent QC consultant. The role of these independent and certified QC inspectors was to provide the day-to-day quality control monitoring, inspecting, and testing of work at the construction sites. The Río Piedras segment was excluded from this requirement because of the special tunneling expertise required to oversee critical elements of the work. Therefore, Grupo Kiewit's QC staff worked independently of those with direct responsibility for the work.

Quality is a stated top priority for the Tren Urbano Organization (TUO). Its QA/QC program is centered in the Implementation Department and the staff includes a QA/QC Manager, who oversees the entire QA/QC effort, as well as the QA Manager and the QC Manager. The TUO QA Manager's role is to ensure that the contractors fulfill the programmatic and procedural quality assurance requirements of their contracts. Specifically, the QA Manager's responsibilities include:

  • Reviewing contractor quality assurance plans
  • Auditing design and construction activities
  • Conducting on-site surveillance
  • Monitoring the status of issues raised in nonconformance reports
  • Reviewing the documentation certifying all tests and inspections.

On the other hand, the TUO QC Manager has more technical responsibilities, including:

  • Reviewing contractor quality control plans
  • Approving the qualifications of contractor QC staff
  • Reviewing construction work plans
  • Ensuring the contractor is working to TUO-approved design plans
  • Coordinating inspection plans and coverage
  • Monitoring construction progress and nonconformance issues
  • Working with the QC oversight consultant to ensure that each alignment section is compatible and coordinated to overall system designs.

As shown in the table above, a QC oversight consultant, Parsons-Brinckerhoff, was hired by TUO for the majority of the alignment. The duties of these Transit Construction QC Specialists include:

  • Interfacing daily with contractor's QC supervisors to determine construction activities, inspections, and tests to be performed
  • Inspecting work to ensure it is performed according to construction plans and contract requirements
  • Completing daily inspection reports, work longs, and nonconformance reports
  • Reviewing inspection and testing reports submitted by the contractor's QC supervisors
  • Advising the Contract Manager of potential claims and assist in resolving technical issues
  • Monitoring maintenance-of-traffic and archeological activities
  • Performing weekly reviews of construction work plans.

Based on a telephone interview of TUO quality staff, the key challenges and lessons learned from the project are mostly related to the complications of managing seven separate contracts for the construction of the project and an eight contract for QC oversight.

Lesson 1. Along with the various contractors came several different non-conformance reporting systems that complicated the tracking and performance of work on the overall project. The key lesson from this is to develop a uniform nonconformance system with identical forms, logs, and tracking procedures between all contractors involved. Ideally, such a system should be electronic (to expedite processing and tracking) and approval should also be sought from the owner's Quality Manager prior to implementing the dispositions.

Lesson 2. Each contractor involved in the Tren Urbano project hired a different QC consultant. Although this may have helped ensure the independence of the QC consultant and the contractor, it probably contributed to the complexity of the overall quality program because each QC consultant approached the work differently. The lesson here is that reducing the number of QC firms involved probably would have reduced the overall complexity of the quality program and perhaps saved time or costs.

Lesson 3. The seven separate contracts also included different quality specifications for each. This was an administrative complication that was not anticipated when the specifications were drafted and the contracts were awarded. The lesson learned is that consistent contract language would have resulted in a more integrated and consistent program that would have reduced the contract administration burden.

 

QA/QC CASE STUDY #7

Montgomery County Department of Public Works and Transportation, Maryland/Shady Grove Parking Structure 2

Delivery Method

Design-Bid-Build

Project Description

  • Parking garage constructed on existing Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) park-and-ride lot serving the Shady Grove Metrorail Station.
  • The new garage will provide space for 2,140 vehicles, increasing total spaces available at Shady Grove by 1,530.

Total Project Cost

$ 27.4 million

Timeline/Milestones

Start Date

March 2001

Est. Completion

Early fall 2002

Lessons Learned

The lessons learned from Shady Grove Metro Station Parking Structure project stem from the Contractor’s Quality Control (CQC) program. There have been several instances where the CQC program has been influential and where improvements to this program have been identified. The CQC program required the following components:

  • Network Analysis Schedule (Critical Path Method, CPM, schedule)
  • Schedule of Values
  • Testing
  • On-site CQC Manager
  • CQC Daily and Monthly Reports
  • Project Record Information

Lesson 1. The first major incident to occur during construction was the identification of the location of a water main running through the project site. According to the construction documents, a 6-foot diameter storm pipe was to be installed over both a 3-foot and a 4-foot water main. As part of the CQC requirement, the contractor had to provide a detailed plan of how each major task would be implemented. During the planning meeting, it was evident that a test pit was needed to resolve the uncertainty associated with the task. The test pits determined that the location was incorrect and the storm pipe would not clear the top of the water mains. Due to the advanced notice of this situation from the contractor the design team was able to respond in a timely manner without impacting the final completion date. This was significant since the installation of the 6-feet diameter storm pipe was on the critical path for construction.

For this situation, the CQC program helped in the following ways:

  • It provided advanced notice of the conflict via the test pits.
  • It identified this operation as being on the critical path.
  • The contractor was required to analyze their CPM schedule to mitigate any long-term delays to the project.
  • The situation could have been resolved more easily if the CQC planning and test pits were performed earlier.

Lesson 2. Another incident that posed a potential problem for the project involved a contractual safety issue. The contractor anticipated starting pre-cast erection several months into the project. Even before the project began, a safety plan was requested of the contractor showing their cranes and locations. The purpose for this information was to identify whether or not the cranes were set back far enough away from the railroad to avoid an overlap of a perceived area of crane collapse. When received, WMATA reviewed this submittal for compliance with their adjacent construction requirements. They noted that their requirements were not being met and would not allow the erection operation to commence. WMATA requested that much of the critical work closest to the tracks be done during the off-peak hours, moreover suggesting that the pre-cast erection be performed at night.

By way of construction meetings, negotiations and resubmissions of the crane safety information, a settlement was reached. It was determined that the erection could proceed using a shorter crane next to the tracks. It was also required that a flagman hold traffic on the adjacent WMATA owned road during erection picks in that area. As erection proceeded to a certain building height (5th level) and away from the tracks, the crane boom could be extended and the other safety measures eased.

For this situation, the CQC program helped in the following ways:

  • Through submissions and resubmissions, information was transmitted until WMATA and the contractor were able to agree on a plan.
  • What could have been a change order of over $3 million for nighttime erection was reduced to an approximate $80,000 cost impact to the project.
  • CQC reports were able to track the actual time impacts associated with erection delays due to WMATA associated safety issues.
  • This situation could have been avoided if the issues were addressed much earlier, such as during pre-construction.