Monday, December 5, 2016

Using Bid Express

I think more DBEs should be adding their names to the voluntary plan holders list in Bid Express.  Six DBE companies have listed themselves for the December 20th letting.  Go to Bid Express and log in. Open up a proposal and click on the Plan Holders / Eligible Bidders link on the right side.  Click the Add button to add your company to the Voluntary Plan Holders list.  This is no substitute from sending out your sub quotes to the eligible bidders but it is a great way to let the primes know to expect a bid from you.

Bid Express also has a new service called Bid Express Maps - .  The proposals that are out for bid are displayed on a map.  Not all next door states are included but Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Missouri are listed. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

DOT job & Oskaloosa Airport DBE goal

The Iowa DOT has posted a job opening for a job in the Office of Civil Rights reviewing DBE applications.  If you know of someone who is interested they can click on this link:

The Iowa cities of Pella and Oskaloosa are developing a new regional airport to be built over the course of the next 10 years. See the summary of the project:

Much of the funding comes from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which requires a DBE goal be set for the project and to be renewed every 3 years.  There is a teleconference scheduled for November 16th concerning the availability of DBE firms in order to set the DBE goal.  Details of teleconference can be found here:

In general DBE goals are set by the number of DBE firms ready, willing, and able to work on the specific work types divided by the number of non-DBE & DBE firms.  If you can not attend the teleconference meeting I think it would be appropriate to send an email to the organizer Erin Van Roekel PE - stating that you are a DBE firm and interested in participating on this project.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

DBE Bonding Program October 24th - 26th

A free workshop on bonding sponsored by the USDOT will be held Monday October 24th thru Wednesday October 26th at the Scott County Extension Building, 875 Tanglefoot Lane, Bettendorf, Iowa.  In addition to bonding, attendees will learn about construction accounting, estimating, and bidding.  To register click on: 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Construction Leading Edge Website

I have found listening to podcasts an easy way to keep abreast of news and areas of special interest.  It is also a nice way to multitask while on long drives.  I looked through the internet for a site that features podcasts that relate to the construction industry.  The best one that I found is Construction Leading Edge (  There are about 50 podcasts.  The ones I have listened to are practical and filled with good advice.

I have downloaded three of the best ones:




Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Online Iowa DOT Training

The Iowa DOT website has an extensive area online to provide training for IDOT employees, consultants and other agencies.  The address is

Although setup for employees of the Iowa DOT I think there are topics that are of interest to highway contractors.  For example:

The web-based courses and videos are all free.  You need to sign up at the Learning Credentials button and create your own password.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

New ERL Release

The Iowa DOT has published a new version of the Electronic Reference Library (ERL) which combines the spec book, standard road plans, construction manual, and the SUDAS specs into one handy reference source.  The ERL can be downloaded in an e-book which looks and works like the ERL that is on the web.  It would be helpful to download the ERL to your computer or laptop so it is always available when you are on a jobsite and the internet is not available or reliable.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Downloads Page

Part of this blog is a "Downloads Page" that I keep current with files that are helpful to download.  All the pdf files can be opened by any pdf program instead of requiring that they be opened by Adobe Acrobat Reader.  You may have seen this when you try to download a file from the Iowa DOT website.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Pavement Patching Project at the Herbert Hoover Library in West Branch

The Federal Highway Administration is taking bids April 27th to patch the parking lots and streets around the Herbert Hoover Library in West Branch, Iowa.  This is a total small business set-aside with a small business defined as doing less than $36.5 million a year in work.  Proposal forms and plans are available at:

Proposals are due at 2:00 PM local time Wednesday April 27th at the FHA office in Vancouver, Washington.  Faxed bids are not accepted so you will have to mail overnight your proposal.  Estimated job size is $500,000 to $1,000,000.  

Monday, February 22, 2016

TSB On Call Design and Engineering Services

The Office of Design for the Iowa Department of Transportation (the Department) is interested in selecting three TSB (Targeted Small Business) consulting firms to enter into agreements to provide statewide engineering services. The firms must be certified through the TSB program. The selected consultants for this contract will perform a variety of engineering services related to concepting, design, and construction inspection for various projects with a short duration or limited scope. Projects may include 3R, institutional road, rest area, safety, 4R, ADA or other roadway projects. Firms will be eligible and potentially selected for work that fits into their strengths. When projects are identified, the consultant will be allowed to bring in subs that fit the project need. If your firm is interested in providing the described services, please submit a proposal stating your ability and availability to complete this work.
County: Statewide
Route: All
Locations: Statewide
Services Requested:
Submission Deadline: 3:00 PM CST -- 2/29/2016
Contact Person: Stacy Ryan
Contract Duration: 3 years
Listing on The Iowa DOT Consultant Utilization page.

Request for Proposal

Map information on Google Maps

I ran across an online site that will take a list of addresses or locations and map them on a custom Google map.  It is all free.  The site is called Batch Geo located at .

For example I took the DBE directory and created the following map:

What else could you map?

Employee names and addresses.  Who lives near that job?

Job list.  What jobs of mine are close to each other?

Suppliers list.  Who is near that job?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Subcontractor bid form

All contractors have their own bid form that they have developed.  There are some basic things that I think a bid form should include:
  • Keep it to one page (if you can) & one job per bid
  • Clearly show your company name, name, and cell number in case there are questions
  • Include the letting date, call order, contract ID, & county
  • List the bid items in the same order as the Iowa DOT bid proposal
  • Don't need to put the name of the prime contractor on each bid (that can be a lot of work and paper)
  • Do track who you have faxed or emailed a quote
  • Always follow up a verbal revision with a written quote
Below is a picture of the excel bid form that can be download:  bidform.xlsx

Bidding as a Prime Contractor

Many of the projects that are let by the Iowa Department of Transportation are within the capability of DBE contractors. I encourage DBE contractors to be in the position to bid as a prime contractor.  Prior to bidding as a prime contractor the Iowa DOT will require you to complete Form 650004 Iowa DOT Contractor Financial-Experience-Equipment Statement Contractors' Form. You can download Form 650004 here. The Iowa DOT has funding to help DBE contractors pay for CPA accounting services in preparing Form 650004.

The amount of work that you are qualified to bid will first depend on how you prepare the statement.

Individually Prepared Statement is completed without the assist of a CPA and will be limited to $200,000 minus the amount of uncompleted work.

CPA Reviewed Statement will be limited to contracts less than $1 million plus total contracts less than the maximum prequalification amount minus the amount of uncompleted work.

CPA Audited Statement has no individual contract limitation and total contracts are limited to the maximum prequalification amount minus the amount of uncompleted work.

Maximum Prequalification Amount is based your amount of current assets plus 1/2 noncurrent assets plus loan authorization times an experience factor (0.0 to 12.5).

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The Iowa DOT also requires contractors to complete a minimum amount in work categories before they would allow you to prime work in those categories.

You will also need to be able to file an acceptable performance bond within 30 days of the approval date for awarding the contract.