Angelle Bergeron
All the rebuilt facilities in Jackson Barracks complex meet the Spirit Gold standard.

When it was obvious that Hurricane Ike was roaring toward a Sept. 13, 2008 collision with Texas, the Texas Army National Guard director of facilities, Lt. Col. Tim Senecaut, called his Louisiana counterpart, Lt. Col. William Aldridge, seeking advice on the best way to the prepare for the expected damage assessment process and to prime the pumps for the recovery funding stream.

Aldridge, the construction facilities management officer for the Louisiana National Guard, had been wrestling with a $467-million, 16-contract program rebuilding Louisiana Army National Guard facilities damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. It is the largest public works program in the history of the National Guard, and, as a full-court-press disaster-recovery effort, it may rival the rebuild of the I-35 Bridge in Minnesota as the new poster child for the design-build delivery method.

Lt. Col. William Aldridge
Lt. Col. Aldridge

“Looking down the road, projects like these [the I-35 bridge and LANG] offer very good examples of how to take something that was part of a disaster and recover quickly,” says Christopher Prawdzik, director of information for the Design Build Institute of America in Washington, DC.

In Texas, the damage to Guard facilities from Hurricane Ike—about $2.7 million—was not nearly as extensive as what happened in Louisiana, Senecaut says, “but Bill had some lessons-learned that now I don’t have to learn. He had set up some processes regarding damage assessment and A/E selection, and had an understanding of how to work with the National Guard Bureau. He walked me through things and showed me the check sheets they use.”

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  • The Louisiana Army National Guard was also lucky that Louisiana has several contractors well versed in design build, Aldridge says. “The sheer size of these projects is something Joe Schmoe off the street is not capable of handling.”

    But it was all about speed of program management, too. The 9-month window to commit the funds to rebuild and repair 189 facilities statewide was going to close fast. Time is money, asserts DBIA’s Prawdzik. And where everything in the traditional design-bid-build method is focused on lower price, “with design-build, since the price is there, people are competing to give the best value,” Prawdzik says. “Not only are you upping the quality of what you get, there also are secondary savings to be considered, like what finishing early does for the rest of the community.” For example, there were estimates that the lost bridge in Minnesota cost $600,000 per day, he says.

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    Design Build Institute of America
    States vary widely in their permission of design-build project delivery on state projects.

    Aldridge, for one, is sold on the design-build method. LANG gave the government “more bang for its buck” with 14 of the 16 projects coming in under budget, he says. “A lot of my counterparts within the Guard and within other branches of government are looking to see if they can adopt new legislation to further expand design-build as a primary vehicle,” Aldridge says.

    “We’ve been asked a dozen times to give presentations to consultants and AGC chapters,” Aldridge says. “The National Guard is now paying to send people from my office to classes to get them certified so they can put ‘design-build certified,’ as well as AIA and P.E., on their cards.”