Go With the Flow, Chicago

Any plan advanced by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers or others to re-reverse the flow of the Chicago canal system will hasten the demise of Lake Michigan (ENR 5/21 p. 19). The Chicago River keeps 99.5% of the metropolitan area's stormwater and wastewater from discharging to the lake, arresting its rate of decline. Cities and watersheds in Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin continue to discharge copious quantities of water containing non-regulated chemicals. Meanwhile, Asian carp have shown no inclination to move into the canal system due to its desolate habitat and absence of food for these voracious eaters. The Corps needs to be mindful of the impact on Lake Michigan.

The Great Lakes Commission study was "engineering lite," lacking thorough analysis of impacts. The options presented will result in increased pollution of Lake Michigan and local flooding.

Richard Lanyon

Evanston, Ill.

Tough Design-Build Law

In the project delivery feature article in the June 4 issue of ENR, "Greater Acceptance Aids Firms," the Design-Build Institute of America's Lisa Washington is quoted as saying that all but three states—Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma—allow the use of design-build on public projects. While Pennsylvania is generally a design-build participant, our state's design-build use should be footnoted here. Pennsylvania is one of only a few states in our country that still requires a multiple prime delivery method on publicly funded building projects.

The Pennsylvania Separations Act, as it is known, requires a public entity to bid and award at least four separate prime contracts per project. In those few instances when design-build is used on a public project, the state requires the design-build firms to bid and award mechanical, electrical and plumbing contracts to the lowest responsible bidders, as opposed to allowing a design-build firm to bring its own construction team.

The use of the design-build delivery system in Pennsylvania's public construction market is so cumbersome, it's no wonder this delivery system is rarely used in the public sector, which I believe hampers the use of design-build in the private sector. The more success achieved by design-build will raise the awareness of it, leading others to contemplate using it in other sectors. The Master Builders' Association of Western Pennsylvania is one of many associations that are attempting to repeal this archaic 1913 law. If Pennsylvania ever wants to truly experience the benefits of design-build, we must modernize our procurement law to allow alternative delivery methods in the public sector.

Jack Ramage

Executive Director

Master Builders' Association of Western Pennsylvania Inc.