Simple question, why should a local government go through all of the hassles to manage their own projects? Why not let TDOT manage all phases? The following are the reasons why:
- For Transportation Enhancement (TE) projects, you have no choice. Due to the unique nature of these projects local governments are forced to manage the project locally.
- Projects that are bid out by local governments will cost less money, somewhere around 10% less. If you have two projects alike in every way, including what part of Tennessee they are in, the project that TDOT bids out TDOT will cost 10% more than one bid by the local government. I don’t know exactly why that is, but that is what happens.
- Local Governments have move control over the project if they manage it locally. The local government gets to pick the engineering consultant for the project and can work with them to develop the project that the local community wants. The project will still have to meet TDOT/ASHTO standards, but there is some wiggle room in these standards. Working with your TDOT pre-qualified firm you can decide what project best fits the needs of the community.
- The Local Government gets to control the pace of the project. Instead of this being one of the thousands of other projects that TDOT is working on, this is your community’s one project. You can focus attention and energy on it, and because it is your consultant working on it you can pick up the phone and know exactly where things are and what the next steps are.
- Locally Managed projects get to the construction phase faster than TDOT projects. Because inflation on the price of construction is about 10% a year or more, the local government will save money on the overall cost of the project.
- No “mystery” billings from TDOT. For projects that are managed by TDOT you will typically receive about four separate requests to cover the local share of the project. The first request will be for Preliminary Engineering. Then one for Right of Way (ROW), and another before the project is about to be bid out TDOT based on the estimate. The last request for the local share usually comes after the project is bid out. This request comes because the estimate is usually lower than what the project actually bid for.
Those are the normal reimbursement requests that TDOT asks for. However, I have seen where a local government is sent a bill for a project that was completed years ago. What is the bill for? Who can they talk to about this? Those are questions that don’t have an easy way to track down answers. The reality is that TDOT is about getting projects going (which is a good thing), but does not exactly rush to get them completely closed out. This is where these bills years after the fact can come into play.
For locally managed projects the reimbursement program is controlled by the local government. When the project is complete, they can round up the last bills, get them paid, and close out the project much faster. Because the local government knows what they are paying for, there will be no surprises years down line.