Highway Construction Services
CDOT highway construction projects cover an entire spectrum of roadway and bridge work. They can range from very small asphalt and pothole filling requests to multi-million dollar mega transportation projects such as the Highway US-36 Managed Lane Project and I-25 North Express Lanes.
Firms that provide services for highway construction projects are called Contractors or Bidders because these projects are typically awarded using the low-bid process. CDOT enters into a contract with a “prime contractor” and that firm is responsible for completing the project with whatever additional support is required.
How Does CDOT Buy Highway Construction Services?
The majority of CDOT highway construction projects are awarded through a low bid selection process. CDOT’s goal is to encourage competition in order to get the best price for the service. Primes will often subcontract to small businesses that provide a specialized service, such as laboratory testing or businesses that can supplement the prime contractor’s workforce with services like traffic control and flagging.
All firms that want to bid as a prime contractor
on a highway construction project must be prequalified
by CDOT. This requires a prequalification application
and the ability to get bonded for the size of the project. Larger projects require higher bonding levels. It can be tough for many small businesses to get bonded for million dollar projects, so the best way to get your foot in the door is through subcontracting to a larger prime contractor. Subcontractors do not need to be prequalified
although it is a good marketing tool if you are able to bond.
Types of Solicitations
CDOT typically uses a "low bid" method of procurement for projects that are strictly construction. In some cases, projects may have a combination of design and construction work and these could go out for bidding using a two-step process that is based upon most qualified and low bid.
- Invitation for Bid (IFB) outlines the requirements of the project and the specifications that the prime contractor must meet to perform the work.
- Request for Qualifications (RFQ) is issued as the first phase of a two-step design-build procurement process to obtain Statement of Qualifications (SOQ) from interested prime contractors.
- Request for Proposal (RFP) is used as the second phase of procurement, and only short listed prime contractors may respond.
How to Bid
Prime contractors submit their bid to CDOT electronically and a committee that includes the Project Engineer reviews all of the bids at a public "bid opening." All construction bids must be submitted to CDOT using Bid Express
, an online bidding system that requires bidders to register and pay a monthly fee. You can register to bid with just CDOT or other state DOT’s that use the system.
Contracts are awarded to the lowest "responsive and responsible" bidder. Results are posted on CDOT’s website as a Bid Tabulation
or "Bid Tab" so the public can see the prices offered by all bidders and how they stacked up against each other. Archived bid tabs
are also an excellent way for small businesses to find out which prime contractors routinely bid on CDOT projects. You can also use this information as a competitive bidding tool to see what prices are being offered for various items in the bid.
Where Do You Find Opportunities?
CDOT publishes notices of all their highway construction projects in advertisements on their website and in other publications such as the Dodge Network
(formerly The Daily Journal). They also put together a “Go Sheet” that contains upcoming opportunities. This is similar to a procurement forecast that can help you identify future projects before they hit the street. By checking CDOT’s website regularly, you can find projects that align with your product or service.
However, you should not solely rely on this approach if you want to have the best shot at getting work. It's also important to start networking with prime contractors and get to know CDOT Resident Engineers and Civil Rights Managers in the various CDOT Regions
. Attending training and events through industry associations is also a great way to get your name out there.
DBE and ESB Firms
Most CDOT projects are funded either partially or fully with federal funds from FHWA or FTA. Because of this, the requirements are pretty stringent and there are a lot of rules and paperwork, including reports that are mandated by the federal sponsor. Therefore, it is more difficult for small businesses to be a prime contractor on these projects.
However, the DBE Program
and ESB Program
both apply, which provide additional opportunities and competitive advantage for certified firms. CDOT also has a limited number of free Bid Express
accounts available to DBE and ESB firms that wish access bidding information, review project plans, network with prime contractor, and submit online quotes.