Cold and snowy again, after record cold, then record warmth, and expected to be warm again this weekend and next week. Even the dead of the winter passes quickly. A reminder to anyone contemplating a construction project this year that NOW is the time to begin engineering. Bidding in late winter and early spring (February and March) normally results in the best bid prices. In order to follow this timeline designs should be underway now, or at a minimum should begin in February. Advertising for bids in February or March results in opening bids in March or April, allowing construction to being in April or May, ideal spring weather.
This of course applies to projects that don’t require Permits or Agency approvals. You should add at least a month to be safe for even a simple E&S Plan. DEP General Permits, such as for waterway obstructions (bridges and culverts) normally take 2-4 months, depending on complexity. More complicated approval processes such as Land Development Planning, DEP/Army Corps of Engineers Joint Permits, Act 537 Plans normally take upwards of 6 months.
Of course, if projects aren’t started on this time line, there’s still time to build this year, but the sooner engineering begins, the more control you have over the schedule. Every year we bid and construct projects in the fall. Ideally this should be by choice, not by necessity.
Call us if you want us to come examine a potential project, we would be happy to do so at no cost.
So now once again we hear of an Infrastructure Bill from the Federal Government. These “Investments” are always quantified by how many billions or trillions of dollars are spent. The focus should be on maximizing the amount of infrastructure that actually gets built, not how much money is spent. The goal should be to build the most infrastructure at the lowest public expenditure. Public works projects have been use for social welfare since long before the dawn of our Republic. We will know that America is serious about rebuilding our dilapidated infrastructure when we strip social welfare programs away from public works projects. On the federal level the Davis Bacon Wage Act (aka Full Labor Union Employment Act) should be repealed, and so should the Brooks Act which prohibits price competition on engineering contracts. The Brooks Act treats every engineering and architecture contract as if it was building the Space Shuttle. The vast majority of projects are much more mundane, and considering price as part of the selection criteria would invite far wider competition and greatly reduce costs. At the state level the Prevailing Wage, Separation of Bids (both created to also ensure full Labor Union employment) and Steel Products Procurement (no steel has actually been produced in PA for decades) Acts should all be repealed immediately. Collectively these would instantly reduce the cost of Public Works projects by one-third, meaning that 1½ times as much infrastructure could be built with the same tax dollars. After this, every level of government should be reviewed for the absurd complexity of thousands and thousands of pages of excessive regulations that further increase public works costs. Stormwater management regulations should be the first to be simplified. This would save another third of the remaining costs. For once, lets’ begin an Infrastructure Bill by reducing the costs to build infrastructure.