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Three projects selected for state construction reform pilot program

Universities can use design/build, CM At-Risk

Three university building projects of various sizes have been selected to test whether state agencies and educational institutions should be permitted to use an expanded range of project delivery systems for constructing capital facilities.

As expected, the six "core phases" of the $1 billion expansion of the Ohio State University's medical center was selected by Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut as the large pilot project.  These phases, which will include construction of a hospital tower, relocating and upgrading infrastructure and roadways and construction of a chiller plant, are estimated to cost $658 million.

Fingerhut designated the University of Toledo's proposed $7.8 million in renovations to the Center for Biosphere Research at the Bowman-Oddy Laboratories Building and Wolfe Hall as the medium-sized project.

The small project is the fourth phase of renovations at Central State University's Emery Hall, an historical building constructed as a women's dorm in 1913.  That project is estimated to cost $1.75 million.

Inclusion of the "construction reform" pilot program in a budget correction bill (H.B. 318) passed last December in the Ohio General Assembly ended a bitter partisan fight over whether and when the state should adopt the wide-ranging changes proposed last April by the Ohio Construction Reform Panel.

Members of the Republican-controlled state Senate tried to incorporate the panel's recommendations in their entirety in the budget fix bill.  But the Democrat-dominated House of Representatives, along with Governor Ted Strickland, balked, contending the recommendations had not been fully considered in the legislature.

As a compromise, the Board of Regents was given authority to experiment with three new project delivery systems on a small, medium and large project at Ohio's higher education institutions.  The project delivery options are construction manager at-risk, design-build and design-assist.

University officials have long contended that Ohio's multiple prime contracting requirement for public works construction adds significant cost to university building projects.  The pilot program "will help determine the cost savings associated with giving state colleges, universities and government more options to bid and award work," Fingerhut said.

All three of the projects come with a disadvantaged (EDGE) business participation goal. For OSU its 20%, and for the other two projects the goal is 15%.

Final approval for the projects is pending an April 5 vote of the Controlling Board.

Regents spokesman Michael Chaney said the legislation authorizing the pilots requires twice-a-year progress reports to state leaders, but the institutions plan to keep officials apprised of developments as the projects unfold. The first full report is expected by the end of the year, he said.

"Our plan is to provide updates as we get them along with the semiannual reports," he said.

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