Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Curb ramps" - the movie

More attention is placed on the construction of handicap ramps than almost any other part of a paving project.  It is where the final product has a real impact on a segment of the public.

The Iowa DOT is working to provide more training on the layout and construction of handicapped curb ramps.  Toward that end I found a two part video on building curb ramps made by Armor-tile that I thought was worth sending out.

Part 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybEY43FBQCY&feature=youtu.be

Part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpXfB57bdH4

The videos where made in 2006 in San Francisco so some of the details are not exactly how we do it in Iowa.  For example they show using colored concrete and a groove border; plus they cut the warning tile which we don't do.

PDF files and the software to work with them

Because the use of paper documents is phasing out it has become more important to know how to work with computer files.  The most common form of file to share information is the PDF document.  For example, all Iowa DOT plans, specifications, manuals, addendum use the PDF format. 

I think there are 3 main levels of working with PDF files View and Print, Create, Edit.

View & Print - Most computers come with a free pdf reader like Acrobat Reader to open files and print.  Some of the forms that the Iowa DOT uses can only be opened using Acrobat Reader.  If you try to open these files you will get this error.

Create - You need to be able to create your own PDF document.  For example you could use Microsoft Excel to create your subcontract proposal but you should convert it to a pdf before you email it out.  Why?  The recipient may not have the same software as you and can't open it.  Also a spreadsheet can be changed while a pdf is more permanent.  You can create a PDF with Adobe Reader or PDFCreator

Edit - To be able to highlight, add notes, or mark-up a PDF you need a PDF editor.  The original editor is Adobe Acrobat which costs about $450.  I use Bluebeam Revu.  It costs $219 plus it has functions like on-screen measurements and approval stamps.

For example you could markup a handicap ramp with dimensions, elevations and slopes from a table to create a plan that a crew could use in the field. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

New Good Faith Effort process

Starting with the April 15th letting there will be a new process to evaluate the good faith efforts (GFE) relating to Iowa DOT DBE goals.  The link to the file is here.  The objective measure of using the "80% rule" to determine GFE has been replaced with an appeal process to the GFE evaluation committee consisting of three Iowa DOT staff members.

In my opinion DBE contractors will see an increase in bid requests from prime contractors in order to document their good faith efforts.  I hope we don't return to the days when DBE contractors get flooded with certified letters requesting sub-quotes.  Prime contractors who have a good track record of contracting with and helping DBEs should be rewarded.

Some things I think DBE contractors should do when quoting work:

  • Try to respond to a prime contractor's request for quote by telling them yes I am bidding or not bidding, no work items for me, no time to bid.
  • Submit a written sub-quote either by fax or email
  • Try to submit to all qualified planholders
  • Keep a record of all your sub-quotes

Bidding Routine

I get asked about what opportunities are out there for DBE contractors.  How do I review the plans?  What projects have DBE goals?  How do I submit a sub-quote?

The Iowa DOT is very consistent in its letting procedures.  You should take advantage of that consistency to develop your own bidding routine.

1. Download and review the notice to bidders from the Iowa DOT Office of Contracts.
The notice to bidders will list all the projects for bid along with a partial list of work items, DBE 
goals, start date, etc.

2. Download the plans and proposals of the projects you are interested in from the Iowa DOT Office of Contracts website.

3. Use Bidx to track addendums on the project and get the list of qualified planholders. 

4. Fax or email your written sub-quote to the qualified planholders.  A list of most of the planholders fax numbers and email addresses is in the downloads page of this blog.