Baby Steps: 14th Annual Municipal Survey

By Robert Carpenter, Editor | February 2011, Vol. 66 No. 2

The benefits of trenchless construction continue to be recognized. “It saves us time and the public inconvenience on our roads,” said this respondent from a Massachusetts city. “Without trenchless methods, we would not have been able to rehab nearly as much of our sewer system as we have – the savings from shortened construction windows and minimal street repairs have allowed us to do more with less money,” stressed an Indiana city official.

A Pennsylvania respondent pointed out that a side benefit of trenchless was that “right-of-way permits that may be unavailable when using open-trench methods can be by-passed with trenchless.”

Click for a closer look at municipalities' views of individual trenchless technologies. trenchlessview11.PNG

Contractors
As always, the survey queried municipalities regarding their relationships with contractors and consulting engineers.

On a five-point scale with 5 being the best possible rating, contractors received a score of 3.82. While down from last year’s record 3.87 score that still represents the second highest rating in the history of the survey. A Georgia respondent explained that “we’re generally pleased with the work of our contractors; however, since the recession started, we’ve had a lot more contractors bidding on our projects and we’ve had to be a lot more careful in qualifying them.”

Still, municipal personnel had plenty of suggestions on how contractors could do a better job and improve relationships with cities. “A contractor that researches and organizes his work is more effective,” stated this Ohio respondent. An official from North Dakota said that contractors “could notify agencies honestly if they are properly qualified and have the experience for the work being hired for – instead of saying they know how to do the work and then making the problem worse.”

A city respondent from Nevada said “I believe contractors need to bid reasonably and not buy the job. There is a potential in the future for warranty issues due to the ultra-competitive nature of the bidding process in the present economic times.”

Another respondent from Vermont advised “Anticipate problems and discuss them prior to the start of a project.” From Michigan, this suggestion: “Be honest and employ workers who know what they are doing.” A California municipal employee also stressed that contractors should “know what they are doing – don’t bid on jobs to learn on.”