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Murphy Corridor: Progressive Design-Build Project Connecting Community in Bend

For many years, improving the Murphy Corridor has been a priority for the City of Bend, as it is in an area experiencing significant growth. The long-anticipated project would provide a vital east-west connection over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railway tracks to serve the southeast area of Bend, ultimately improving safety and mobility for the community.

View over the future Murphy Corridor Extension (looking west)

The City decided to use the progressive design-build (PDB) method to deliver the project. This unique delivery method, which allows the team to expedite portions of the work and get construction input during design, has only been implemented a handful of times in Oregon. This type of delivery requires a truly integrated team that can review the progress of design at different checkpoints and provide detailed cost estimates, meaning construction can start early and the project can finish sooner. The City selected the construction-contractor-led PDB team of K&E/Hamilton to deliver the project with DOWL as their engineer and Murraysmith as the construction manager.

“The Murphy Corridor project utilized a PDB method, which is new territory for most of the existing project team members. The Murraysmith construction management team contributed previous design-build experience and integrated seamlessly into a fast-paced project and previously well-established team,” said Garrett Sabourin, City of Bend project manager.

The project was kicked off in May 2019 and is currently in progress, with an anticipated completion of August 2021. The integrated team is working together to improve mobility in several ways, including modernizing and widening one mile of existing roadway and constructing three new roundabouts and a half mile of new road, which includes a bridge over the BNSF tracks.

New Murphy/15th Roundabout (looking south)

Murraysmith’s construction manager, Eric Levison, has served as the owner’s representative throughout the early stages of the pre-construction phase, and most recently as the construction manager during the construction phase. The Murphy Corridor is the City’s third PDB project, and Eric has been involved in all of them. As a trusted advisor to the City, he manages the day-to-day construction activity and keeps in constant communication with the City and many project stakeholders. Eric uses his knowledge of the PDB process to guide the project from the early stages of design to a guaranteed maximum price (GMP), and eventually into construction, where he oversees a blended team of consultant and City inspection staff. Eric is supported by Heidi Ramos, a newly hired construction administration specialist, and Ian Machan, who oversees Murraysmith’s firmwide construction management and inspection practice. Murraysmith recently opened an office in Bend, where Eric is stationed, allowing the team to continue fostering a productive relationship with the City and better serve the community.

“At K&E, we feel that Eric Levison has been an incredible asset to the project. He has been working hard to help us get this project off the table and built, willingly helping navigate the design side and making sure we are designing the project to keep the people in the field working, so we can hit our timeline,” said John Kuenzi, Estimator and Project Manager at K&E.

New Murphy/Brosterhous Roundabout (looking east)

One of the biggest challenges of this project, which is true of all PDB projects, is that progress must move at a rapid pace. It is crucial that the team determines the correct milestone to establish the GMP and that design modifications are effectively tracked and negotiated from that point forward. The team is accomplishing this through communication that is founded on establishing a communication plan early on, holding workshop meetings, and embracing true integration and partnership across the different players—the City, Murraysmith, K&E/Hamilton, and DOWL. The goal of this extensive collaboration is to achieve schedule and budget, all while meeting the City’s needs.

“Murraysmith provided an optimal yet scalable team to accommodate the needs of the various construction packages and has consistently met the owners’ budget, scope, and schedule expectations,” said Sabourin.

Not only is Murraysmith excited to be building on a collaborative relationship with the City, but we’re proud to be part of an experienced team delivering a project that will help foster community in Bend. The Murphy Corridor is a crucial connection point that will provide vital east-west connectivity, better emergency medical services and fire response times, increased mobility for pedestrians and bicyclists, ADA compliant paths, and improved safety overall. This is especially necessary because the area is an important hub for the community, encompassing an established neighborhood, a park, and a nearby school.

New bridge approach embankment with Murphy/15th Roundabout in background (looking east)
New Murphy/15th Roundabout (looking north)