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Insight

Delivering Durable Transportation Assets with CEI

In this interview, we tap into nearly five decades of combined transportation construction engineering and inspection (CEI) experience to understand the value of having a CEI team in place during construction.

CEI is a helpful service to verify that trans­porta­tion designs are trans­formed into lasting re­sources that trav­el­ers and in­fra­struc­ture owners alike can rely on. Whether trans­porta­tion agencies are in need of ad­min­is­tra­tive back-up or con­struc­tion man­age­ment support, CEI services verify that roadway, bridge and other mobility projects are con­structed ac­cord­ing to design spec­i­fi­ca­tions and on schedule and budget. We rounded up CDM Smith CEI technical delivery managers Dan Cogan and Jon Gibson to talk more about how CEI adds value through­out the life­cy­cle of a project.

What benefits will trans­porta­tion agencies get from hiring a CEI team?

Jon: Having a CEI con­sul­tant on board reduces the client’s day-to-day con­struc­tion man­age­ment re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. We can verify that the work being done is in ac­cor­dance with all stan­dards and reg­u­la­tions required. CEI provides a level of comfort for clients that con­trac­tors and sub­con­trac­tors are de­liv­er­ing quality con­sis­tent with the price being paid.

Dan: Since taxes col­lected from citizens con­tribute to trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments, CEI also provides an “in­sur­ance policy” to agencies, allowing them to con­fi­dently com­mu­ni­cate to the com­mu­nity that their funds are being used to produce quality results that will pos­i­tively impact their daily travel.


If an agency is on a tight budget, should it pri­or­i­tize CEI?

Jon: Based on the client’s needs, we provide scalable and cus­tomiz­able CEI services in pri­or­i­tized areas of focus. Whether they need extra support in one area or multiple areas, we provide that support.

Dan: Some­times clients don’t have the avail­able budget to tap into the full array of what CEI offers. When a client doesn’t have the monetary re­sources, they can still choose those CEI services that best support their project. For instance, if a client is building a marquee or complex bridge, they might choose to bring in a CEI team to provide ad­di­tional con­struc­tion man­age­ment over­sight, to provide support to their own field inspection staff. CEI consultants become an ex­ten­sion of staff, strength­en­ing re­sources in areas the client has pri­or­i­tized.

Jon: We can be as involved as the client needs us to be, pro­vid­ing anything from a full team to oversee all project aspects to ad­min­is­tra­tion or man­age­ment staff to oversee internal op­er­a­tions. We can even simply provide con­sult­ing or advice as needed.

With a CEI consultant, controlling the unknown and responding effectively to changing conditions becomes easier.
Dan Cogan, CEI Operations Manager
How does CEI help move projects forward?

Dan: CEI teams that provide con­struc­tion man­age­ment help guide projects through­out their life­cy­cle, over­see­ing project ac­tiv­i­ties to verify plans are built as close to the intended design as possible. Staying on course with plans is im­por­tant; however, it’s normal to en­counter change orders on any roadway or trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture project. With a CEI con­sul­tant, con­trol­ling the unknown and re­spond­ing ef­fec­tively to changing con­di­tions becomes easier, and the client knows they are still re­ceiv­ing a quality end-product.

Jon: Con­structabil­ity reviews help identify po­ten­tial issues. Before plans go to bid, we look for op­por­tu­ni­ties to reduce schedule, optimize design and phase work in a way that will help to lower bid costs. For clients, such as toll agencies, relying on revenues from the job, reducing the time­frame for con­struc­tion is a top priority.

Dan: For fed­er­ally funded projects, CEI con­sul­tants help obtain com­pli­ance with any en­vi­ron­men­tal or per­mit­ting re­quire­ments. This way the client knows the design is con­structed in com­pli­ance with all stan­dards and they will continue to receive funding. Having a con­sul­tant on board is a big relief for projects relying heavily or wholly on this type of funding.

What, ul­ti­mately, is the return on in­vest­ment for using CEI services?

Jon: We verify that the project is con­structed to the design stan­dards orig­i­nally set and also con­fir­m qual­ity ma­te­ri­als are used to meet all of the owner’s require­ments. High-quality ma­te­ri­als typ­i­cally lead to fewer main­te­nance issues and full func­tion­al­ity for the intended life of the design. CEI services are avail­able after con­struc­tion is com­pleted, too. Clients can have a warranty period to follow-up on any issues or concerns that arise.

Dan: It’s easier and more cost-efficient to make alterations to the design before construc­tion is com­pleted. Im­ple­ment­ing a change to the design during con­struc­tion might only cost a fraction of the amount it would take to repair or replace a finished product. A change order may cost you $20,000 during con­struc­tion, but re­solv­ing an issue could cost $2 million down the line if not ad­dressed im­me­di­ately.


Dan Cogan is a technical delivery manager of 80 CEI staff, as well as a senior civil engineer. He has nearly 30 years of industry experience, is a licensed pro­fes­sional engineer in eight states and is also is certified as a Associate Value Specialist by the Society of American Value Engineers.

Jonathan Gibson is a technical delivery manager of 80 CEI staff, as well as a senior project engineer. He has 16 years of con­struc­tion man­age­ment ex­pe­ri­ence in every level of CEI from inspector to senior project engineer.

Dan Cogan Dan Cogan
CEI allows agencies to confidently communicate to the community that public funds are being used to produce quality results.

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