Providing Engineering Services for Localities in Northern Virginia

ACEC/MW Virginia Municipal Co-Chair, Adam Marolf, talks about upcoming engineering opportunities and doing business with localities as discussed at the Virginia Municipalities Luncheon on 5/17/2023.

On May 17, 2023, ACEC/MW hosted a luncheon to discuss doing business with Virginia Municipalities at Maggiano's in Tysons, VA. The hybrid event had nearly 120 participants, with over 90 attending in-person, including engineering consultants and agency representatives who gained insight into the unique settings of Virginia municipalities that underscore their priorities in establishing the procurement of engineering services. The presentation and roundtable discussion focused on the needs and capital programs of the localities and included important ways to stay informed of upcoming projects. The speakers included:
  • Adil Chauhan, P.E., Bureau Chief, Engineering Bureau, Arlington County Department of Environmental Services
  • Vrushali Oak, Chief, Building Design Branch, Fairfax County Department of Public Works & Environmental Services
  • James Zeller, P.E., Assistant Director, Transportation Capital Projects, Loudoun County Department of Transportation & Capital Infrastructure, and 
  • Shana Terry, CFCM, CPPB, VCCO, VCO, Lead Procurement Officer, Prince William County 
The event was moderated by John McDowell of Rummel, Klepper & Kahl, LLP, ACEC/MW Virginia Municipal Committee Chair.

Adil Chauhan (Arlington County) began the presentations with a summary of the county and the capital improvement plan (CIP) budget priorities. The CIP for Arlington County is updated every two years and separated into eleven (11) broad programs. The next update to the CIP is for Fiscal Year 2025 with the current CIP including a 10-year program of $4.3 billion. A majority of the program is for transportation, which accounts for $1.8 billion over 10 years. Other major programs include local parks, government facilities, Metro, water and sewer infrastructure, stormwater management, and schools. Adil indicated that much of the work in Arlington County is performed under on-call or basic ordering agreement contracts, but that larger projects are handled using standalone contracts. To receive announcements for solicitations, the county utilizes a system called Vendor Registry which requires registration for access to bid information. Adil indicated that there will be a request for proposals for a comprehensive contract for various engineering services (transportation, stormwater, structural, geotechnical, dry utilities) that will be released shortly as there is one (1) year remaining on the current contract.

Vrushali Oak (Fairfax County) went into detail regarding the CIP for Fairfax County and the various purchasing agencies that exist. Fairfax County has separate procurement and solicitations for the Department of Public Works & Environmental Services (DPWES), Department of Transportation, Park Authority, Public Schools, Housing & Community Development, and Material Management. Similar to Arlington County, many of the smaller tasks are handled under Basic Ordering Agreements (BOA) with individual selections for larger projects. Many of the construction contracts utilize design-bid-build procurements, but there are unique situations when public private partnerships and, more recently, construction manager at risk (CMAR) are utilized. In the Building Development Program, there are currently 14 projects in pre-design, 14 projects in full design, and 20 projects in construction with projects ranging from $3 million to $103 million in total cost and consisting of fire stations, government centers, libraries, parking garages, maintenance facilities, and others. Vrushali mentioned that the inclusion of prevailing wage ordinances and project labor agreements have increased project costs. The capital facilities basic ordering agreements are currently held by 24 consultants and consist of one-year durations with up to four (4) one-year renewal periods and are selected for various categories. The geotechnical engineering BOA is up for re-selection in 2023 and the wastewater treatment engineering BOA will be up for re-selection in 2024 with other categories in future years. 

James Zeller (Loudoun County) discussed the CIP for Loudoun County and focused on transportation opportunities. For the Loudoun County CIP, it is important to identify previously authorized projects and projects for future development as the current CIP may not contain some of the projects that were fully allocated in past CIP documents. The CIP includes project pages that indicate the anticipated funding years for both design and construction. At the time of the meeting, the Department of Transportation & Capital Infrastructure (DT&CI) is finalizing the selection of the on-call consultants for federal aid projects and is currently soliciting engineering services for the design of Arcola Mills between Belmont Ridge Road to Stone Springs Boulevard which includes roadway widening and a bridge replacement over Broad Run. In the near future, DT&CI also looks to advertise for the design of Route 7 Widening between Route 9 and Route 267 (Dulles Greenway) once VDOT assigns the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) participation goal. One of the other long-range projects mentioned was the Route 50 / Loudoun County Parkway Interchange which is currently under the Interchange Justification Request phase and may be out for design in 2024. Jim mentioned that it is important to have experience dealing with dry utilities with the number of data centers that are in Loudoun County. He also mentioned that the right-of-way acquisition process that the county utilizes is similar to that performed by developers and requires the preparation of plats rather than typical right-of-way plan sheets.

Shana Terry (Prince William County) began by introducing a web mapping application that Prince William County maintains to navigate their CIP which includes upcoming projects. The county has an established authorization for various construction contract sizes to be awarded by department directors and executives rather than waiting on approval through the Board of County Supervisors (which is necessary for contracts over $20 million). The county uses on-call architectural and professional engineering services for transportation, facilities and parks, and public works with term limits in alignment with the Virginia Public Procurement Act (VPPA). Prince William County uses the iSupplier vendor portal for solicitation announcements using commodity codes. Shana stated that she always encourages firms to send comments related to solicitations to improve the processes and identify concerns to be addressed.

Following the presentations, the panelists participated in a roundtable discussion responding to questions from the moderator and the audience. 

The roundtable discussion began by asking the municipalities to describe their unique challenges. Some of the common challenges were related to the presence of dry utilities, as working around or with the utility companies impacts cost and schedule. Another issue was the importance of public outreach to work with the many stakeholders involved within the municipalities. There were questions related to the DBE goals that the municipalities utilize, and each of the localities said that DBE goals were set for projects with federal funding and that Small Women and Minority (SWaM) participation is utilized when there is state funding. There was also a question as to the method each municipality used to advertise solicitations and whether the eVA (Virginia's eProcurement Portal) system was used, and it varied by locality, but each has a registry that can be used to receive announcements of solicitations, or the information can be searched on their website. There was also feedback from the attendees to extend their appreciation for the offer from Prince William County to discuss items such as contract terms and insurance requirements prior to solicitations.

The presentations and discussions provided a framework for consultants to track and pursue opportunities that fit their areas of experience. These large municipalities have clear visions for their capital investments with steady funding to carry the programs forward. The engineering community faces the challenge of planning and completing projects with similar workforce shortages that the localities noted during the presentation. The industry appreciates these collaborative and engaging conversations with the municipalities to navigate the best ways to procure and deliver the work, and we look forward to being great partners.

We thank the speakers for their time, knowledge, and partnership they share with the engineering industry.

The ACEC/MW Virginia Municipal Committee meets monthly, and we would love to have you join us.  For more information about the committees, or to get involved, click here
From left: Hugh "Mac" Cannon (ACEC/MW), Adil Chauhan (Arlington County), Jim Zeller (Loudoun County), John McDowell (RK&K), Shana Terry (Prince William County), Adam Marolf (AGES, Inc.), Vrushali Oak (Fairfax County), Keith Foxx (Foxxstem)


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