E-Construction Facilitates Accelerated Construction Along Deadly Maryland Highway

Summary: The firm’s proprietary Mobile Field Services (MFS) application helped a KCI-led construction management and inspection team oversee and keep pace with high-profile accelerated safety improvements along one of Maryland’s deadliest highways, MD Route 404. This app offered a fully auditable Inspectors’ Daily Report (IDR) in an efficient, consistent and reliable platform that allowed inspectors to capture, validate, store and generate the data points necessary to complete their reports. Over the duration of the project, 20+ inspectors used the MFS to track hundreds of individual work items and submit thousands of IDRs, each custom formatted to match the client’s requirements. This e-construction technology improved quality assurance of inspection reporting by standardizing the data collection process, enabling project managers to approve IDRs in real-time, and providing cloud documentation storage that supported auditing and summary reporting.

Full Story:

Extremely high accident rates – 402 crashes resulting in 100+ fatalities – ranked MD Route 404 among the most dangerous highways in the state. More than 20,000 vehicles per day traveled along the high-speed two-lane roadway that serves as a major access route to the Maryland and Delaware beach resort areas. Recognizing the great need for safety improvements, Governor Larry Hogan challenged the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) to deliver the upgrades by Thanksgiving 2017, cutting the typical completion time in half from 36 months to 18 months. As the leader for construction management (CM) and inspection on the $158 million project, KCI employed its proprietary e-construction Mobile Field Services (MFS) application to facilitate the accelerated design-build pace while overseeing the 24/7 work of three prime contractors and more than 55 subcontractors.

With a significantly compressed schedule, we understood that drastic changes in the construction management approach were required to meet milestone deadlines. Our in-house application helped the team expedite workflows, standardize data collection, and improve document and quality control.

Adam R. Gardner, CCMVice President, Practice Leader

Adam R. Gardner, CCM

The construction industry is rapidly changing and the CM team capitalized on many emerging and adapted technologies including UAVs, 360-degree cameras, tablets and cloud computing. KCI and MDOT SHA worked together to implement a document control initiative utilizing the MFS to help improve overall project quality control.

The application was initially developed to capture, digitize and standardize traditional pen and paper Inspector Daily Reports (IDRs) that are regularly used to document construction progress. On the MD 404 project, the MFS enabled a truly mobile and efficient workforce. “Inspectors were able to spend more time in the field by using tablets to collect data via a disconnected application loaded on the device,” said KCI Implementation Specialist Ashley Lincoln. “Eliminating the need for Wi-Fi access was critical in remote rural areas like the MD 404 corridor.” Upon returning to the field office, data was synced through the cloud and IDRs created. Quality assurance and quality control reviews could then be completed via an on-demand Web portal or through emails that were automatically distributed as reports were generated.

Ashley Lincoln - Mobile Field Services
To enhance acceptance of the e-construction suite by field staff, KCI placed an MFS champion on site. Ashley’s presence was invaluable for training, gathering user feedback, investigating concerns, delivering enhancements, and developing upgrades that could be launched seamlessly while work continued.

To facilitate easy and standard data collection, KCI pre-populated many key fields with applicable data for the project, which served as drop-down selection lists versus open text entry. These fields include contractors, equipment, pay items, labor types, etc., where input derives from a limited list of options. This functionality allowed inspectors to gather data quickly, and because the inputs were standardized, the team could efficiently analyze a vast amount of information to resolve discrepancies and minimize lags in pay cycles that averaged $3 million every two weeks. The CM team could also enable or disable contractor information such as plan documents, contact lists, bid/work items, and quantity plans as needed to eliminate extraneous information.

The mobile system captured data on workload and staffing, planned versus completed quantities, artifacts including pictures and sketches, maintenance of traffic lane closures, equipment and materials used, manpower on-site, and other data based on the requirements of the inspector’s assigned task. This aggregated data allowed the CM team to develop reports that tabulated inspections, item summaries and contractor lists on demand.

The application also provided field inspectors with real-time updates on any contract data. Plan documents could be loaded, updated and re-distributed as needed so that the CM team had access to the most recent documentation. This functionality is key in an accelerated design-build project where field staff are often working with incomplete plans, and construction decisions have to be made in the field to keep the project moving and on schedule. The cloud storage capability also ensured easily accessible and analyzable data should a claim be submitted at a later date.

MD Route 404 E-Construction
The data points captured by field inspectors can be leveraged and mined to provide an enhanced operational picture. Courtesy of the MD Asphalt Association.

MFS also promoted safety in the field by requiring KCI inspectors to complete a daily safety check including vehicle inspection, job hazard analysis, and validation of personal protective equipment. Completion of safety checklists was required prior to entering any data in the platform. Inspectors and managers could also add photos, notes, sketches and maps to document any concerns, describe maintenance of traffic setups, or indicate flagger stations.

The complex scope of improvements included earthwork, new pavement construction, existing pavement rehabilitation, drainage, stormwater management, erosion and sediment control, reforestation, landscaping, signing and marking, intersection lighting, ITS devices, construction of a new bridge and box culverts, utility coordination, and environmental permit acquisition. Over the duration of the MD 404 project, 25+ inspectors utilized the MFS to track more than 700 individual work items across three separate sections, and submit 4,000 IDRs, each formatted to match MDOT SHA requirements. More than 2,000 photos were captured and associated with both an IDR and a specific work item, allowing the team to build a series of progress image libraries.

By using the MFS application on MD 404, our team was able to automatically send their IDRs to the office as they were generated, allowing for immediate feedback. This ensured that everyone was sticking to the standards and that the proper documentation was being collected.

Ashley LincolnMobile Field Services Implementation Specialist

Ashley Lincoln

At a ribbon cutting ceremony held on November 20, 2017, Governor Hogan and other state and local dignitaries joined the contractor, design and construction management team in officially opening the improved highway to four lanes of traffic and celebrating a major milestone of his administration’s transportation program. “For decades, improvements to this vital corridor were slow to move forward, and our administration heard your calls loud and clear,” he said. “With the completion of the MD 404 upgrade, our administration is proud to deliver on the number one priority for Queen Anne’s, Talbot and Caroline counties.”

MD Route 404 Ribbon Cutting
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan cuts the ribbon officially opening MD 404 to four lanes of traffic.

KCI’s field documentation approach helped the construction management and inspection team keep pace with the contractor and deliver a complex transportation safety improvement project to completion within an extremely accelerated schedule. The e-construction system replaced the traditional workflow with a digital, auditable and scalable process, and ultimately has the ability to reshape MDOT SHA’s construction approach to future design-builds.

At an awards banquet on September 20, the Chesapeake Shores Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. honored the Dualization of MD 404 project with an Excellence in Construction and Safety Award (category: Mega-Projects over $100 million).