Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Keith R. Molenaar

Second Advisor

Matthew Hallowell

Third Advisor

Ray Littlejohn

Fourth Advisor

James Diekmann

Fifth Advisor

Paul Goodrum


While agencies design and construct the vast majority of federally funded highways through the traditional design-bid-build (D-B-B) method, the use of alternative project delivery methods, construction manager/general contractor (CM/GC) and design-build (D-B) is increasing. This research makes contributions to construction engineering and management knowledge by successfully investigating the performance of highway construction projects in relation to project characteristics and project delivery methods. Results show that alternative project delivery methods are viable options for shortening project durations, delivering projects at a faster pace to reduce impacts to road users, and establishing early cost certainty during project delivery. By conducting a novel quantitative analysis of CM/GC versus D-B, results reveal that CM/GC outperforms D-B for time savings during project delivery.

This study categorizes highway construction projects by the characteristics of size in terms of cost, type, and complexity to provide a practical means of analysis and to make results more applicable to the process of selecting appropriate project delivery methods. In the process, the author supplements an empirical study of 284 projects with experiential knowledge obtained from highway officials through a rigorous Delphi study. The results provide new evidence that alternative contracting methods are superior to D-B-B for schedule compression and cost growth performance. However, D-B-B remains indispensable on certain projects. Findings are confirmed by the triangulation of information from the empirical data, the Delphi study results, and existing literature to provide useful recommendations for state highway agencies.

The ability to choose an appropriate project delivery method for efficient performance of a certain project holds merit with state highway agencies. Particularly, considering the vast amounts of money involved in US highway construction coupled with the current political climate that has heightened attention to expenditure on US infrastructure. With the urgent demand at this juncture for improvement of the status of US transportation infrastructure the application of the findings from this PhD research can aid highway agencies’ selection of an appropriate project delivery method to achieve project goals, particularly cost and schedule performance objectives.