Nearly two weeks ago, the Metro Council, in an unusual display of unanimity, approved two 18-month program manager contracts to oversee the more than $1 billion MovEBR roads improvement program.
And while MovEBR is now one step closer to getting started, there are still a number of things to work out before road work actually begins. First is figuring out how to execute the program management system, says Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Kelvin Hill, and then comes the process of prioritizing the 70 projects on the MovEBR list.
For the next five to six weeks program managers—CSRS and Stantec—and the Department of Public Works will determine the roles and responsibilities of the 16 firms involved in the two contracts for the first 18 months of the program.
“We started this past Monday,” says Hill. “We’re working through who is responsible for what, who makes decisions, what our escalation process is, protocols, best practices. It’s the structure in terms of how to organize yourself.”
The 18-month contract for the CSRS team, responsible for the $800 million of capacity enhancement projects, has a $7.5 million price tag and involves seven firms. The contract for the Stantec team, managing nearly $300 million of community and corridor improvement projects, has a $5.6 million price tag and includes nine firms.
Once the MovEBR firms have a management system in place, Hill says, creating a priority list of projects is the next step—and perhaps one of the most anticipated.
Officials have already said light synchronization will likely be the first project tackled on the MovEBR list, which includes roughly 70 road projects funded by a 30-year, half-cent sales tax that city-parish voters approved in November.
“I believe we can move pretty quickly on that with Stantec,” Hill says. “We’ll be taking at look at that once the management system is in place.”
Critics of the program manager contracts, some of whom spoke at the last council meeting, have questioned the efficiency of the management setup, while others criticized a lack of equitable distribution of work. Council members, however, were pleased with the number of minority-owned firms included and said they are confident the program will be managed efficiently.