Back River Project Moves Forward With New Construction Model

Dept. of Public Works press release header

The Baltimore City Board of Estimates approved a contract Wednesday, May 4, that will allow work on the Headworks project at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant to proceed under an innovative, cost-saving model known as Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR).

The Headworks project is needed to alleviate a hydraulic restriction that keeps sewer water from efficiently entering the treatment plant. It causes a 10-mile-long backup in the sewer system that contributes to sewer overflows in the City, particularly following hard rains.

The Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW) turned to the CMAR model last year after bids to build the massive Headworks project ran more than $100 million over the estimated cost.

DPW officials are exploring the use of the CMAR model for other large infrastructure projects.

“I’m optimistic that by thinking creatively we will be able to deliver some of our projects for less money and in less time than what has become typical,” said DPW Director Rudy S. Chow, P.E. “We have billions of dollars in capital projects ahead of us, and we must continue to invest our ratepayers’ money wisely.”

A joint venture team of Clark Construction and Ulliman Schutte, LLC, won a contract for $3,839,000 to perform pre-construction services on the Back River project. The team was one of four that submitted proposals and were interviewed by members of DPW’s Office of Engineering and Construction. The Clark/Ulliman Schutte team was also approved by the Office of Boards and Commissions and the Architectural and Engineering Awards Commission.

The pre-construction process establishes the best way to perform what will be a multi-year build costing hundreds of millions of dollars. A guaranteed maximum price is also established in this early process in order to avoid cost overruns, and provides DPW with significant control over the process. The overall project schedule and cost is expected to be much less than with other construction models.

It is likely, under terms of the agreement, that the Clark/Ullimann Schutte joint venture will also be selected to perform the construction.

The Headworks project should be ready to move to construction by early next year. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

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Jeffrey Raymond
Kurt Kocher
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The Baltimore City Department of Public Works supports the health, environment, and economy of our City and region by cleaning our neighborhoods and waterways and providing its customers with safe drinking water and sustainable energy practices.