NMDOT to test score system on highway contract bidders

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) said on Thursday that it will allow the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) to implement an experimental system for awarding highway contracts.

Highway projects in New Mexico previously had gone to the lowest bidder, with the potential for cost increases, but under the new method, a pre-qualification score based on the contractor’s past projects will now be considered, along with the contractor's initial bid.

“We at U.S. DOT encourage others to come up with innovative ways to be more efficient, and this approach is one that we believe may help make the transportation system work better,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “Providing quality construction projects will yield better and sustainable jobs for the future.”

The new NMDOT approach applies to projects that cost $5 million or more and is expected to provide an incentive for contractors to be more responsible with spending. Construction quality, timeliness, job safety, compliance and claims records will be developed into a rating system that encourages good performance as well.

“This contracting approach could provide New Mexico taxpayers with better value for their dollars,” FHWA Deputy Administrator Gregory Nadeau said. “It’s also about getting the most from our federal investment.”

NMDOT is required to re-evaluate the new procedure every three years and report to FHWA on a regular basis. Once sufficiently examined, the FHWA will take further steps for permanent implementation.

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