Inviting Client Collaboration with Design-Build Approach

Inviting Client Collaboration with Design-Build Approach

DECEMBER 12, 2019

Our teams collaborate daily to accomplish project design and delivery goals. In the case of our design-build contracts, the alternative approach loops our clients into the collaborative relationship. When the City of Portland, Maine needed to replace one of its pump station and upgrade another, they opted for design build project delivery and hired Woodard & Curran.

“We were completely open book with the city,” said Client Manager Barry Sheff. “They were active in decision making throughout the process. They were in the field with us, making decisions as the project progressed. We checked in with their operations staff weekly to ensure the completed projects would meet their operational standards and having them involved really makes a difference.” 

A Tale of Two Pump Stations

The Curtis Road pump station is situated in a residential neighborhood with tall shrubbery hiding it from nearby properties. It was first installed in the 1960s and pumps the area’s wastewater into a force main driving it approximately 1,000 feet uphill. The biggest hurdle with this aspect of the project was the logistics of working in a quiet residential area. Woodard & Curran worked with the city to host a neighborhood meeting, communicated regularly with abutting residents, and helped educate them about the upgrade benefits to the users. 

Across the city, Franklin Street pump station sits on the corner of a busy arterial that sees almost 90,000 passing vehicles during peak hours and is highly visible to its commercial neighbors. This centrally located pump station processes nearly half of the City’s peak wastewater flows. The city helped maintain an open line of communication in the area, navigated road and trail closures necessary to complete work on the project, and manage public safety.

In both cases, a bypass pumping system was required to maintain service levels. On Curtis Road, two large diesel pumps operated 24-hours a day and were fortunately not cause for neighborhood complaints. On Franklin Street, the bypass needed to handle up to 6 million gallons per day (MGD) during improvements and peak flows of 8 MGD during wet weather events. The grinders were taken out of operation while the bypass was running, which meant manually having to manage debris, such as rags and trash, that infiltrated the collection systems on a constant basis, often hourly during wet weather events.

The Design-Build Benefit

Portland city officials played an active role in this project from the time the contract was signed through to completion. They provided input to the preliminary design, identifying details early on that should be included or excluded and customizing the final design for their operators. Over the winter, proposals and bids were reviewed to prepare for a springtime construction starts. The city helped prequalify and identify preferred subcontractors and we worked with the city’s preferences when possible, allowing the client a level of control not available in a typical delivery method.  

“While design build is new for Portland, my personal professional experience told me opting for a design build approach on this project would allow us to have greater control and to involve our operators in the outcome. We were able to work with Woodard & Curran to obtain standardized equipment from our preferred manufacturers and contract prequalified subcontractors,” said City of Portland Department of Public Works Water Resources Project Engineer Gerard T. Remsen, III, PE, CME. “The level of transparency throughout the project allowed our staff to clearly communicate with neighboring residents and businesses during construction. This delivery approach allowed us to selectively add project elements to the Franklin Street pump station during construction, effectively utilizing project contingency funds to maximize the city’s investment.”

From the kickoff meeting to commissioning, there was open dialogue between Construction Manager Keller Barton, our team, and the client’s staff. Sheff said, “It is really fun in terms of the delivery method, especially given the experience of the city staff managing the project. At the end of the day, we are solely responsible for the design and build, which provides the client with single point of accountability.” 


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