CDOT moves forward on US 550/160 Connection South Project

June 12, 2019 - Southwestern Colorado - Three construction teams “short-listed” to submit formal proposals for the project’s design-build process

The Colorado Department of Transportation has named three construction teams to a short list of firms invited to submit formal proposals to build the upcoming $98.6 million US 550/160 Connection South Project just south of Durango.

The teams, all Colorado based construction companies, include: Kiewit Infrastructure Co. of Englewood; Lawrence Construction Co. of Littleton; and SEMA Construction, Inc. of Centennial.

The three teams were selected based upon their individual firm's strengths, the strengths of their created teams (major participants and subcontractors) and their key personnel committed to the project,” said CDOT Chief Engineer, Josh Laipply. “Each team also provided insight into their project management and technical approaches, helping us determine the best submitters. All teams and personnel selected have a great deal of experience that will benefit our project.”   

Using a Design-Build (D-B) selection process, described below, seven teams recently submitted Statements of Qualifications (SOQs). An SOQ is a summary of a team’s experience with similar transportation infrastructure jobs that helps CDOT with the process of choosing the most qualified team for the project. The SOQ also reveals who the lead contractor intends to include within their team, such as key personnel and core subcontractors. The next step in the D-B process is for the three short-listed firms to submit formal proposals, due this October. CDOT plans to select the final successful team by the end of the year, with ground breaking in early 2020.


D-B is a two-step project delivery method where the design and build phases of a project are combined into one contract.

To appreciate the D-B approach it is helpful to understand the more prevalent contracting method used by the state of Colorado – Design-Bid-Build (D-B-B),” explained Project Director, David Valentinelli. “D-B-B is where a project owner, like CDOT, develops a set of construction plans and advertises for bids. We are then required to select the lowest bid.

Under the D-B-B format, CDOT must ensure the plans are complete, accurate and represent the actual field conditions before the selection of a contractor. Most of the risk is assumed by CDOT since any errors, miscalculations and omissions are resolved through change orders, which increase costs and can extend the project schedule. 

The alternative D-B method, being used with the US 550/160 Connection South Project, is considered a risk sharing approach by both the owner and the contractor. In D-B, the owner identifies the project site, project goals, desired outcome and technical criteria. The competing contractors propose how they can best perform and deliver the project goals.

Simply put, D-B encourages innovation and efficiency to leverage any risks and add value to the contract,” said Valentinelli. “We are taking advantage of a strong tool to receive a quality project that helps us achieve as many of the project goals as possible for our given budget of $98.6 million. The D-B method also allows us the discretion to select a contractor on what we consider best value.”  


The three shortlisted proposers will compete to leverage their ideas and innovation through the competitive D-B process. The successfully selected team will show a commitment to maximizing the scope of the project, offering a higher quality product, and one that provides more value to CDOT.

Laipply further explained, “We are looking for the comparative advantage of each proposer. The contractor teams, with their proposals, have the ability to offer ideas that may be novel and demonstrate their ingenuity. This is an exciting process because we will not determine the exact scope of work until we have awarded the contract.”  


For the US 550/US 160 Connection South Project, D-B will allow the design and construction to be completed concurrent to other actions which will allow efficiency within the project schedule. The schedule of the design and construction will progress in parallel, which translates into shortened project timelines and cost efficiency.

These efficiencies could not be realized with the regular bid process,” added Laipply. “Using Design-Build helps unify a partnership between us and the contractor. Involving the contractor early in the process creates a more cooperative atmosphere that explores sharing responsibility and managing risks.

Laipply concluded, “D-B is becoming a more popular contract delivery method, as the transportation construction industry becomes more familiar with the process and its advantages. CDOT has experienced great success with the D-B process throughout other regions of Colorado and we look forward to it contributing to the success of the US 550/US 160 Connection South Project as well.


Shortlisted Proposers Announcement: June 11, 2019  

Draft Request for Proposals (RFP) Released: June 11, 2019

Final RFP Released: July 12, 2019

Proposals Due: October 30, 2019

Final Selection: December 23, 2019

Design Begins: January/February, 2020

Construction Begins: Spring/Summer 2020        


To heighten safety awareness, CDOT recently announced its Whole System ― Whole Safety initiative. This campaign takes a systematic statewide approach to safety combining the benefits of CDOT’s programs that address driving behavior, our built environment and the organization's operations. The goal is to improve the safety of Colorado’s transportation network by reducing the rate and severity of crashes and improving safety conditions for those traveling by all transportation modes. The program has one simple mission - to get everyone home safely.

The US 550/160 Connection South Project will greatly enhance safety for both private passenger and commercial vehicles. The connection will realign US 550 directly into the existing US 160 interchange, eliminating the steep and curved grade of the current US 550 Farmington Hill. This realignment will eliminate the need for the existing light signal at base of US 550 Farmington Hill, reducing intersection crashes. As well, the project may include other features such as wildlife underpass crossings and deer fencing which will reduce animal-vehicle collisions.

ABOUT CDOT: CDOT has approximately 3,000 employees located throughout Colorado, and manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway and 3,429 bridges. CDOT also manages grant partnerships with a range of other agencies, including metropolitan planning organizations, local governments, and airports, and administers Bustang, the state-owned and operated inter-regional express service. Governor Jared Polis has charged CDOT to further build on the state’s inter-modal mobility options.