From the standpoint of a construction lawyer, there is no prettier site than construction cranes in the air.  Cleveland has seen its share over the last year, more so than since the mid-1990s when the Rock Hall, Gateway sports arenas and Science Center were constructed within a short span.

During the prior four months of 2013 alone, the East Bank/Ernst & Young office tower and the new Convention Center and Global Center for Health Innovation have opened in the heart of downtown Cleveland.  A few more cranes remain over a major construction project.  

On Wednesday, August 28, the final beams were put in place for the west bound Innerbelt bridge of Interstate 90 in downtown Cleveland.   Those beams connected the separate sections of the bridge which were constructed from the landings at the west and east ends of the bridge.   The photo accompanying this post, taken this past Sunday, shows the span as it approaches from the east.

Over 4,200 feet long and situated approximately 120 feet above the Cuyahoga River and the industrial valley that surrounds the river, the two-year project will carry five lanes of traffic upon completion.  The existing westbound bridge will begin to be dismantled at the end of the year after the new span opens.  

A separate east bound bridge will begin construction in 2014 with completion estimated in 2016.  Each bridge has an estimated project cost of $293 million, reportedly the biggest project in the Ohio Department of Transportation history.

The bridge is the first value based design-build project constructed by ODOT.  In the more traditional “one-step” design-build delivery system, the contract is awarded to the lowest-cost responsive and competent bidder.

In a value based design-build process, also referred to as a “two-step” process, the contract is awarded to the bidder with the best value score determined on a combination of bid price and a technical qualifications assessment.  As described in Ohio Administrative Code Section 153:1-6-02, the “two-steps” are a “qualification phase” and a “request for proposal” phase.  After a “short list” of no less than three bidders are arrived at through the qualification phase, they are then required to submit a “technical” proposal and a separate “price” proposal.  Fewer than three bidders are permitted if the qualifications review committee believes that there are fewer than three qualified firms available.

The technical proposals for the Innerbelt Bridge project were sent to an ODOT Technical Proposal Advisory Group for evaluation while the price proposals were retained, unopened, until after the technical proposals were scored.  Scores from each proposal were then subject to weighted averaging.  Walsh Construction was awarded the contract and performed the work.

The Ohio rules for two-step design-build public contracting were adopted in February 2012 and come up for review five years thereafter.