Guide for Using Alternative Contracting Methods for Small Highway Projects

Alternative contracting methods (ACM) are alternatives to the design-bid-build contracting method for transportation infrastructure. ACM use combinations of price and non-price parameters such as qualifications, experience, schedule, and approach to select infrastructure project teams. Examples include design-build (DB), construction manager/general contractor (CM/GC), and public-private partnerships (P3). ACM use has been shown to optimize the delivery of projects in terms of time, cost, and realization of public objectives. While ACM use is increasing, ACM account for a small portion of overall project delivery among state departments of transportation (DOTs). Also, most of the completed ACM projects have been large in size and complexity, with costs typically exceeding $20 million. For smaller projects, ACM use on highway-related projects such as roads, bridges, and intelligent transportation systems, has been less documented. In some states, limited ACM use stems from more frequent use of ACM for large projects and concerns that ACM may hinder participation by smaller, local companies. To expand the use of ACM for smaller projects, a better understanding of the following is needed: small project characterization; factors affecting the scope and duration of the procurement process; appropriate allocation of risks based on project size; factors affecting cost effectiveness for owners and contractors; and benefits and challenges to owners. Research to date, including NCHRP research, has focused on projects of all sizes, not specifically on small projects that face their own unique challenges, such as (1) lack of ACM experience among local design and construction companies; (2) duration and cost associated with the ACM procurement process; and (3) attracting private financing for small projects that enables the private entity to achieve an adequate return on investment. Research is needed to address the unique challenges associated with using ACM on smaller projects. The objective of this research is to develop a guide for state DOTs and local agencies on evaluating the potential use and benefits of ACM for small projects and effectively implementing ACM for small projects.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $400000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 10-130

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Jared, David

  • Start Date: 20240103
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01898273
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 10-130
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Nov 6 2023 4:51PM