147.1 Alternative Technical Concepts

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An Alternative Technical Concept (ATC) is a proposed change to agency-supplied base design configurations, project scope, design criteria or construction criteria. This change provides a solution that is equal or better to the requirement in the contract. In the broadest sense, ATCs are similar to value engineering, but they are made as a part of the bid proposal before contract award. ATCs provide flexibility to the bidders in order to enhance innovation and achieve efficiency.

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147.1.1 Benefits of ATCs

The ATC process, irrespective of the approach taken, is an opportunity for MoDOT and our industry partners to participate in a cooperative effort to find a best value solution to our projects. By opening the project to innovative means, methods and materials that we either did not consider or that we had considered but determined infeasible, we allow each interested contractor to propose alternatives that best fit their operations which allows them to be in their ideal competitive position for the project. By engaging the transportation stakeholders, we not only provide the ability to reduce a specific project's costs or completion time, but we also have the ability to implement any developed alternative system wide for other applicable projects. In addition, since the bidding process of awarding to the lowest responsive bidder is unchanged, this opportunity for flexibility does not eliminate traditional contractors from participating. This new partnership in the design process allows the ability to engage contractors more extensively and provides an avenue for their ideas to be moved forward to assist us in creating more efficient designs. The feedback and collaboration we have received from ATC projects to date indicates that early involvement of contractors during the bidding phase leads to the best value for our customers. Our experience shows that the integration of the contractors experience and innovation during the pre-bidding process has resulted in increased competition and lower bids.

147.1.2 Cons of ATCs

The ATC process does create the potential to increase the overall design costs for the project as the number and complexity of submittals may create multiple suitable alternatives, all of which could require additional design expense. However, these costs are minimized through the evaluation process for submittals which considers the increased design costs as a determining factor for approval. Additionally, the potential increased costs are mitigated by MoDOT’s ability to use any approved ATC design concept on future MoDOT work, which allows MoDOT to implement the captured innovations and efficiencies throughout applicable projects on our system even if the ATC proposal is not bid or is not included with the low bid. In general, for the recent ATC projects, MoDOT has agreed to pay the re-design costs at an approved rate determined during the review process of the ATC. In the event MoDOT determines a re-design cost for an approved ATC is not cost effective based on previous expenditures of the base design, the bidder may choose to move forward with the approved ATC by paying their own re-design costs rather than MoDOT.

In addition, as the ATC process must be accounted for in the timeline for project delivery, there is a potential for longer or more complicated delivery timeframes for a specific project. However, if we properly consider the approach during the scoping process for the project so that appropriate candidate projects are identified early and the type of ATC process is appropriately identified, the increased or more complex timeframe should easily be accounted for in project commitments. It is highly unlikely that a specific candidate project could proceed so far through the delivery process that at least one of the ATC types cannot be implemented.

147.1.3 Types of ATCs

There are currently three main types of ATCs:

1) The Standard ATC
2) A Specific Item(s) ATC
3) A Pre-approved Alternative Design ATC

147.1.3.1 The Standard ATC

More information for the Standard ATC
Guidelines and Procedures for the Standard ATC Process
Standard ATC Innovative Contracting Process "White Paper"
Standard ATC FAQs

Often referred to as the MRB (Mississippi River Bridge) process, the Standard ATC process utilizes value engineering principles in the pre-bid environment. In this process, most, if not all, of the project aspects are open to the ATC process where contractors provide confidential feedback on design concepts to MoDOT staff. In a two-tier approval process, Conceptual ATCs (CATC) are confidentially submitted with enough supportive information that an opinion on the benefits, the drawbacks and the design and construction costs can be determined, considered against the identified minimums and standards and a decision made on a pass/fail basis. Once a CATC is approved (a pass decision), the contractor may choose to pursue the ATC in more detail and submit it for final approval and inclusion in the bidding documents. For final ATC submittal, the contractor must submit the original approved CATC and enough supportive documentation for MoDOT to determine whether all approved and appropriate standards and contract requirements can be met, that all potential impacts have been considered and are acceptable and that the resulting benefit/cost ratio as defined in the contract is acceptable. If determined acceptable, the ATC is approved and the necessary redesign is undertaken in order to provide the specific contractor with a set of contract documents and plans to bid the project. Each contractor with an approved ATC can choose to bid the approved ATC or can bid the base design that has been provided for the project. The bids will be accepted and compared using the low bid process.

An example of a Full ATC process detail
The Hurricane Deck Bridge project (J5P2188)

All applicable laws must be followed for the project development including specifically, but not limited to, environmental clearance, R/W procurement and utility work. The process requires MoDOT to define the minimum design requirements for the alternate proposals. The minimum requirements should include compliance with all state and federal laws and full compliance with all previous state and federal approval actions (i.e. NEPA, Access Justification, Reports, Design Exceptions, etc.) unless available time exists in the delivery process to allow this items to be re-addressed. The potential of affecting these previous actions should be considered during the ATC guideline development for each individual project.

The use of this type of ATC requires FHWA approval and is justification for the project to be added to the PODI Matrix for federal involvement for this or other elements.

147.1.3.2 A Specific Item(s) ATC

Examples of Specific Item ATC JSPs
I-44 Unbonded Overlay project (J9I2149)
Rte. 65 Pavements (J5P0892)

A Specific Item ATC is generally more restrictive of the applicable project scope that can be altered by the ATC submittals. Typically, this type of ATC is used for less complex projects with unique circumstances or projects that have limitations on specific areas or work features that can be addressed by multiple solutions. Work items such as pavement or shoulder design features, bridge features or grading or drainage features which may have alternative delivery methods or processes provide opportunities for contractor efficiencies. These efficiencies can be captured by allowing contractor flexibility to propose alternatives that best fit their expertise or abilities. The Specific Item(s) ATC is similar to the Full ATC, in both intent and in logistics. Generally, a two-tier approval process is used, with CATCs submitted with sufficient pertinent information that a pass/fail decision on the concept can be made. Upon approval of the CATC, the ATC can be submitted for approval by submitting the original CATC and additional, further descriptive and refined supportive information. At this point, a determination is made as to whether or not the ATC will meet all approved and appropriate contract requirements, whether or not all potential impacts have been considered and are acceptable and if the resulting benefit/cost ratio as defined in the contract is acceptable. If determined acceptable, the ATC is approved and the necessary redesign is undertaken in order to provide the specific contractor with a set of contract documents and plans to bid the project. Each contractor with an approved ATC can choose to bid the approved ATC or can bid the base design that has been provided for the project. The bids will be accepted and compared using the low bid process.

The use of this type of ATC requires FHWA approval and may be suitable justification for the project to be added to the PODI Matrix for federal involvement for this or other elements.

147.1.3.3 A Pre-Approved Alternative Design ATC

An example of a Pre-Approved Design ATC
Rte. 13 expansion project (J8P2188)

This type of ATC is very specific to the item of work for which an ATC will be accepted. The contract provisions will generally provide flexibility for the contractor to use an established, accepted design method to propose alternative designs other than those already established in the contract plans. For example, MoDOT uses the AASHTO Mechanistic Empirical Pavement Design Guide, so a JSP might allow a contractor to propose an alternative pavement design with supportive documentation which is verifiable by our pavement design process. For this type of ATC, MoDOT and FHWA would agree to the acceptable design standard prior to the approval of the JSP and MoDOT will consider the ATC submittals in concert with the established process of the approved ATC JSP.

The use of this type of ATC may not require FHWA approval, if the JSP is pre-approved through cooperative efforts by the Bidding and Contract Services Engineer and FHWA. Use of this type of ATC will not, with the absence of other mitigating circumstances, require that the project be added to the PODI Matrix for federal involvement for this or other elements.

147.1.3.4 Using ATCs

Prior to the decision for ATC usage in a project, coordination with Central Office Design is required. The Bidding and Contract Services Engineer or the district’s assigned Design Liaison Engineer should be contacted to discuss ATC use. Coordination with FHWA on Standard ATCs and Specific Item(s) ATCs is required and must occur prior to request for obligation and authorization for advertisement.

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