Guidelines for Managing Geotechnical Risks in Design-Build Projects

NCHRP Research Report 884: Guidelines for Managing Geotechnical Risks in Design-Build Projects will assist public agencies in managing geotechnical risk on highway construction projects that are delivered using design-build (DB). The guidelines provide five strategies for aligning the DOT’s and its design-builder’s perception of geotechnical risk and 25 geotechnical risk management tools that can be used to implement the those strategies on typical DB projects. The material in this report will be of immediate interest to agencies and consultants to identify and evaluate opportunities to measurably reduce the levels of geotechnical uncertainty before contract award, as well as equitably distribute the remaining risk between the parties during contract execution so that there is a positive impact on project cost and schedule. Mitigating the risk of differing geotechnical site conditions is never simple, but in a design-build (DB) contract awarded before a complete subsurface investigation is completed, it becomes even more difficult. While DB project delivery is a proven tool for accelerating badly needed renewal projects, it does so by awarding the contract before design is complete. Typical DB highway projects often provide only a small fraction of the necessary geotechnical investigation required by the state DOT geotechnical manual of instruction at the time of procurement. These DB contracts require the DB team to conduct the full subsurface site investigation and geotechnical design report in final design. As a result, construction costs could increase due to unforeseen site conditions. Since current DB case law has shown that the agency cannot effectively shed risk due to differing site conditions, efforts were needed to mitigate the risk of both cost and time overruns if actual conditions are found to differ significantly from those portrayed in the project’s DB request for proposal (RFP). Under NCHRP Project 24-44, Iowa State University was asked to develop guidelines for the implementation of geotechnical risk management measures for DB project delivery related to geotechnical investigation, design, and construction. In addition to the guidelines, the report is accompanied by an excel spreadsheet called the Geotechnical Risk Management Plan Template. NCHRP Web-Only Document 247: Managing Geotechnical Risks in Design–Build Projects documents the research effort to produce NCHRP Research Report 884.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $350000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 24-44

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Dekelbab, Waseem

  • Performing Organizations:

    Iowa State University, Ames

    Institute for Transportation
    2711 South Loop Drive, Suite 4700
    Ames, Iowa  United States  50010-8664
  • Principal Investigators:

    Gransberg, Douglas

  • Start Date: 20150601
  • Expected Completion Date: 20180228
  • Actual Completion Date: 20180228
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37532

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01543477
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 24-44
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Nov 15 2014 1:01AM