Guidelines for Managing Geotechnical Risks in Design-Build Projects

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 are 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). The objective of this research is to develop guidelines for the implementation of geotechnical risk management measures for DB project delivery related to geotechnical investigation, design, and construction. The guidelines may include, but not be limited to: Geotechnical risk identification, allocation, and mitigation in practice; Legal and commercial issues; Geotechnical Baseline Reports; Emerging technology and practices for appropriate risk transfer; Geotechnical consideration for best value and low bid procurement; Geotechnical contract provisions and specifications; Development and maintenance of a geotechnical risk registry; Development, evaluation, and scoring of geotechnical criteria; Geotechnical characteristics that preclude the project from DB delivery; Geotechnical considerations in the Alternative Technical Concepts (ATC) process; Geotechnical data collection, timing, and allocation; and Domestic and international best practices. The work proposed must be divided into tasks and proposers must describe in detail the work proposed in each task. The tasks must be divided into two phases. Phase I will consist of information gathering and planning tasks, culminating in the task to submit the interim report (IR). The IR will describe, in detail, the work completed in the Phase I tasks. In addition, the IR will include an updated Phase II work plan, which will describe the manner in which the proposer intends to use the information obtained in Phase I to satisfy the project objective. Also, the IR will provide an annotated outline of the final report to be published. The IR will be presented and discussed at a face-to-face interim meeting with NCHRP. Work on the Phase II tasks shall not commence until the updated work plan is approved by NCHRP. The project schedule should include 1 month for NCHRP review and approval of the IR. A kick-off teleconference between the research team and NCHRP shall be scheduled within 1 month of the contract’s execution to discuss the research plan. A detailed description of any proposed survey or field investigation shall be submitted to NCHRP for prior review and approval. Deliverables must include: (1) A final report documenting the conduct of the research and (2) A standalone guidelines document, separate from the final report.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • 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

    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: 0
  • 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