IL Approves Infrastructure Design-Build Legislation


Last week, the Illinois House of Representatives approved legislation that would allow the Illinois Department of Transportation to streamline infrastructure projects. The Innovations for Transportation Infrastructure Act authorizes IDOT and the Tollway Authority to use a design-build method for highway construction projects to expedite processes.

Passed by the state’s Senate in February with bipartisan support, the bill was reportedly passed in the House on a unanimous vote and now goes to the governor to sign.

“Streamlining the implementation of infrastructure improvements will save taxpayer dollars and rebuild our roads, bridges and mass transit systems in a transparent and equitable manner,” said State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago), Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. “Finding alternative ways to deliver on rebuilding Illinois remains a top priority for me on the Senate Transportation Committee.”

Currently, IDOT uses a design-bid-build project delivery method where the department designs a plan in-house, then reviews bids from contractors. With the new process, a single entity would both design and start construction of the project.

According to Senate Bill 2981, projects using this method would be capped at a combined total of $400 million. Additionally, the Act authorizes IDOT and the Tollway to use the construction manager-general contractor delivery method on up to two projects per year.

Using this process, IDOT would contract with single entity to serve as the construction manager for the design phase, then agree on a price to serve as general contractor for construction. The bill also requires both agencies to ensure the full inclusion of minority- and women-owned businesses by creating a liaison for the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program.

“We applaud the Senate’s actions on this legislation as it will provide flexibility needed by our state’s transportation agencies to complete certain projects that can best be performed on a design-build basis,” said Larry Bullock, President and CEO of the U.S. Minority Contractors Association.

State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville) said the proposed method was used for the construction of a bridge from Pike County, Illinois, to Missouri. “Missouri was in charge of it and they used design-build,” Davidsmeyer said. “They came in under budget and got it done in less time.”

When first introduced, the bill changed the definition of “progressive design-build project delivery method,” and added provisions governing:

  • Authorization of project delivery methods;
  • Preconditions to commencement of procurement;
  • Procurement;
  • Evaluation and selection of proposals;
  • Project records;
  • Confidentiality;
  • Public disclosure;
  • Design-build contracts;
  • Construction manager/general contractor contracts;
  • Funding and financing;
  • Minority, disadvantaged and women-owned businesses;
  • Labor agreements;
  • Acquisition of property;
  • Federal requirements;
  • Powers of the Department of Transportation and the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority; and
  • Rulemaking.

“ACEC Illinois applauds Senator Villivalam for his leadership to develop a bill that brings the best advantages of design-build innovation and time savings while protecting Illinois businesses, especially our small and diverse engineering firms,” said Kevin Artl, President and CEO of American Council of Engineering Companies Illinois chapter.

“Illinois is home to the most innovative and forward-thinking engineers in the nation and the approval of alternative delivery methods will help unleash that potential as our members continue their work to modernize and rebuild Illinois’ surface transportation network.”

Other Design-Build Legislation

At the end of 2019, New York signed the New York City Public Work Investment Act, which authorizes some city agencies to use the design-build method for projects, into law. The New York State Assembly passed the regulation in June 2019, and it was signed by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo Dec. 31.

The legislation authorizes some of the city’s entities—including the city’s Department of Transportation and Department of Design and Construction—to award design-build contracts. These will be operating under a project labor agreement, cost $10 million or more or are for the Department of Parks and Recreation that cost $1.2 million or more.

Other projects, such as renovations to cultural institutions and libraries and security improvements—of at least $1.2 million—can also utilize design-build.

While the law took effect immediately, each entity that has issued a design-build contract will have to submit an annual report that includes a description of the contract, the bidding process, costs, how much money was saved by using design-build and how much of the contract went to minority- and women-owned businesses.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio had been championing for the design-build approval, highlighting the estimated savings, which could be around $2 billion over a 10-year period.

At the time, there were already nearly 50 projects lined up to use the method—saving at least $300 million. The state had already used the model for larger projects such as the $4 billion Mario M. Cuomo Bridge and the $1.5 billion expansion of the Jacob Davitz Convention Center.

A study published by the Design-Build Institute of America in 2018, showed that design-build methods would compose 44% of construction put-in-place spending across a number of market segments by 2021.

The study’s findings were developed through a combination of DBIA-provided contacts and Fails Management Institute internal contacts, totaling 82 interviews and 101 survey responses from construction firms in all revenue categories. The assessment covered religious, public safety, communication, amusement and recreation, lodging, healthcare, transportation, office, commercial, manufacturing, educational, highway/street and water/wastewater.


Tagged categories: Bidding; Contractors; Contracts; Department of Transportation (DOT); Design build; Government; Government contracts; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Laws and litigation; NA; North America; Program/Project Management

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