­Senator Villivalam

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago), chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, advanced legislation to allow an alternative project delivery method on infrastructure improvements from the Illinois Senate on Friday.

“Streamlining the implementation of infrastructure improvements will save taxpayer dollars and rebuild our roads, bridges and mass transit systems in a transparent and equitable manner,” Villivalam said. “Finding alternative ways to deliver on rebuilding Illinois remains a top priority for me on the Senate Transportation Committee.”

Senate Bill 2981 creates the Innovations for Transportation Infrastructure Act, which authorizes the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Tollway Authority to use the design-build delivery method on highway construction projects. Currently, IDOT uses the design-bid-build project delivery method where the department designs a plan in-house, then reviews bids from contractors. Design-build would expedite that process by allowing a single entity to both design and start construction on the project. Projects that use this method would be capped at a combined total of $400 million.

“ACEC Illinois applauds Senator Villivalam for his leadership to develop a bill that brings the best advantages of design-build innovation and time savings while protecting Illinois businesses, especially our small and diverse engineering firms,” said Kevin Artl, president and CEO of American Council of Engineering Companies Illinois chapter. “Illinois is home to the most innovative and forward-thinking engineers in the nation and the approval of alternative delivery methods will help unleash that potential as our members continue their work to modernize and rebuild Illinois’ surface transportation network.”

The Innovations for Transportation Infrastructure Act also authorizes IDOT and the Tollway to use the construction manager-general contractor delivery method on up to two projects per year. Using this method, the department would contract with a single entity to serve as the construction manager for the design phase, then agree on a price to serve as general contractor for construction.

The measure further requires the two agencies to ensure the full inclusion of minority- and women-owned businesses by creating a liaison for the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program.

“We applaud the Senate’s actions on this legislation as it will provide flexibility needed by our state’s transportation agencies to complete certain projects that can best be performed on a design-build basis,” said Larry Bullock, president and CEO of the U.S. Minority Contractors Association.

Senate Bill 2981 passed the Illinois Senate with bipartisan support and awaits consideration in the Illinois House.