Last week, legislators circulated a package of proposed reforms for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT). The bills aim to improve efficiency and accountability at DOT. Co-sponsorship for the bills is due this Friday, May 31.
Joint Finance Committee member Sen. Tom Tiffany is listed as an author on several of the proposals. Other authors include: Sens. David Craig (R-Town of Vernon), Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) & Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) and Reps. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin), Mary Felzkowski (R-Tomahawk), Mike Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin), Jim Ott (R-Mequon) & Chuck Wichgers (R-Muskego).
The bills include reforms in the following areas:
- LRB 3330 would create a pilot program awarding six design-build projects by 2025. Additionally, the bill creates a DOT Office of Innovative Program Delivery to conduct the program. The office would prepare a report on the program with recommendations to the legislature and JFC.
- LRB 3331 would require DOT to maintain an inventory of 50 or more highway project designs in which at least 30 percent of the design work has been finished that could be potential design-build projects, in addition to its current inventory of designs.
- LRB 3344 would transfer sales taxes on auto parts, accessories, and services directly into the transportation fund.
- LRB 3334 would require local referendums in order to impose a local wheel tax.
Cost savings incentives
- LRB 3327 would create cost reduction incentives for construction projects. The bill gives DOT the authority to amend contracts to authorize implementation of cost reductions and awards 50 percent of cost savings to the contractor.
- LRB 3349 requires DOT to encourage proposals of alternate water quality management plans in its specifications for highway improvements.
- LRB 3335 would provide bonuses for DOT employees who identify cost savings.
- LRB 3336 would require the state auditor to appoint a DOT inspector general, paid for by DOT, in the Legislative Audit Bureau. The inspector general would examine the efficiency of DOT programs and would report to the legislature.
- LRB 3333 requires municipalities’ governing bodies to approve the construction of any highway roundabouts.
- LRB 3338 would require DOT plans for reconstructing or recreating an existing highway must be of substantially the same scope as the existing highway.
Cost savings in materials
- LRB 3326 would require DOT to keep a list of approved highway subbase materials that will provide equivalent structural properties for highway construction. Contractors would be allowed to review the list and propose whichever approach is lowest cost to bid and construct.
- LRB 3329 requires DOT to encourage the use of materials sourced from within the right-of-way of a proposed improvement. Bidders may include those cost savings in their bids.
- LRB 3328 adds aggregate sites and concrete batch sites to current law exemptions from local zoning ordinances.
- LRB 3332 requires DOT by the end of 2019 to award a fixed price contract for $150 million in bridge work to the bidder proposing the maximum volume of work.
- LRB 3350 would require DOT to rebid projects where only a single bid is received, if the bid is over 10 percent of DOT’s estimated costs. JFC would be able to approve certain exceptions to this rule.