Research Portal

May 15, 2019

Analysis of Roadway Safety Under the Alternative Project Delivery Systems

Completed in 2016.

In the United States, most highway projects use a traditional design-bid-build delivery system. Road maintenance is then performed based on funding availability and the maintenance priorities. When maintenance funds are scarce, serviceability of roads is impacted, which affects road safety. Alternative project delivery systems such as design-build-operate-maintain, design-build-finance-operate-maintain, and other public-private partnership (PPP) models provide for more consideration into the life cycle of highways. Through content analysis of PPP procurement documents and agreements, this research investigates PPP projects for their contractual safety terms.

The findings show that PPPs do have better safety figures than traditionally delivered highways, but not in all dimensions. Specifically, PPP projects have better (lower) injury and accident/crash rates compared to the rates of state, local, and public non-PPP projects. However, while PPP fatality rates were better compared to state and local projects, the fatality rate on PPP projects was not lower in all years and/or in all projects when compared to public non-PPP projects. Additionally, this study found that PPP projects did not provide for expanded consideration toward safety beyond what is normally available in the traditional delivery. Safety was an objective in most (76%) of the projects, though without proactive mechanisms to implement such objective. Around half of the projects mentioned safety as part of the proposal evaluation but only two projects assigned points or weights in the evaluation. None of the projects provided for linking the contractors’ compensation to the achievement of improvements in the accident/fatality/injury rates of the projects.