Mayors, Administrators and City Managers across the Show-Me-State now have a new tool in their tool-belt to rebuild and maintain infrastructures within their communities. On August 29 the long-awaited Missouri House Bill 2376 went into effect authorizing local Missouri public agencies to use the design-build construction process for everything from roads and bridges to water and wastewater projects.

This new law provides Missouri public agencies with the power to choose the best partner and construction method to build the projects and the infrastructure that will benefit us all for decades to come.

We work with communities every day who are looking for the most cost-effective and innovative ways to have those essential needs we all take for granted, like clean drinking water and efficient wastewater and stormwater systems. This bill is critical in helping smaller townships and communities maintain and rebuild their infrastructure.

Using results from a delivery system study conducted by the Construction Industry Institute in conjunction with Penn State University, there are three main advantages to using design-build for municipalities; particularly for water and wastewater projects:

  1. Speed. City leaders are committed to delivering projects to their residents as quickly as possible. Examining a comparison of project delivery methods, the study found that design-build has a delivery speed at least 23 percent faster than traditional methods.
  2. Single-Point of Responsibility. According to the study, single-point responsibility is the main advantage of the design-build delivery method. With one person carrying the responsibility for both design and construction risk, design-build eliminates confusion and eases the burden on an already overloaded city staff. Cleaning-up these points of confusion and confrontation, result in reduced change orders and construction related claims.
  3. Cost-effectiveness. With growing needs and shrinking budgets, cities are looking for ways to get the highest quality products and services at the lowest cost. The study also found that design-build is the most economical and efficient project delivery system at least 4.5 percent less than traditional methods.

To learn more about Missouri’s new design-build legislation, click here, or feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

Ron Coker is senior vice president and general manager of the Water Group at Burns & McDonnell, where he’s responsible for the operation of the firm’s water group globally and specializes in capital delivery initiatives with municipalities.


Giving Back Offers a Capstone All Its OwnAt Burns & McDonnell, we like to say, “We invest for a better world.” Giving back is among our core principles — because we see the needs, because we care about our communities, and because we know we’re in a position to help.

That’s among the reasons I’m proud to have completed my third year as an industry capstone sponsor in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Colorado Boulder. The capstone program aims to synthesize an undergraduate student’s entire course of study into a single final project. Each project demonstrates how effectively students can combine the knowledge, teamwork and communication skills necessary to effectively solve a problem presented by the sponsor. Last year, I helped a group of students with a wastewater treatment plan design challenge.

This year, I worked with two teams: One worked on an isomerization and alkylation project within an oil refinery; the other worked on a cumene and phenol project to be included in a petrochemical complex.

I drew upon my 22 years in the oil refining industry, most of it in technical service, to provide students practical insights to help them shape their final products into processes that would actually work. The projects themselves, and the processes they use in achieving them, offer insights into what they may be doing as they pursue their careers. They also pick up confidence, as they face the challenges of resume writing and interviewing.

Having the opportunity to serve as a sponsor is remarkable. I enjoy developing the initial project statements that the students are to address. It’s empowering to meet with the students multiple times on campus to discuss the project — exploring issues identified in their designs, and addressing roadblocks they must worth through to overcome. It’s amazing to see them develop projects with safety, reliability, and economics in mind — not just feasibility.

While we work through the obvious — the chemistry — we also consider equipment needs, siting considerations, manpower-saving ideas, and other factors. These are capstone projects, after all.

I really appreciate how, at Burns & McDonnell, we are encouraged to get involved in our communities. I consider it to be both good for our industry and good for myself. Though the time commitment is considerable, being a mentor is so energizing that it doesn’t feel like work. And to see the students accomplish so much during the time we spend together, I can’t wait to see where they take us in the years ahead.

As for me? I look forward to mentoring capstone students for years to come, likely until I retire. By then, I’m confident these students will have our industry’s future well in hand.

As a senior process engineer, Christine Hobson serves as the Process Technology Manager for the Burns & McDonnell’s Process & Industrial group in Denver, specializing in the oil refining industry.


First Cross-Border Mexican Wind Farm Powers American Homes

by Aaron Anderson August 23, 2016

As California’s utilities face the deadline to produce one-third of their power from renewable sources by 2020, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is tapping into one of the strongest wind resources on the West Coast: the Sierra de Juárez mountain range in Baja California, Mexico. The more than 155 MW Energía Sierra Juárez (ESJ) […]

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Resilient and Energy Efficient National Guard Readiness Centers

by Pete Karnowski August 17, 2016

Creating resilient and energy-efficient facilities is vital for the future of the Department of Defense. For the Army National Guard (ARNG), that means creating places where soldiers can plan, train, perform missions and provide a community-centric location in case of emergencies. The average age of most readiness centers, or armories as they’re sometimes called, is […]

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Threatened and Endangered Species: Golden-Cheeked Warbler & Black-Capped Vireo

by Gary Newgord August 16, 2016

The golden-cheeked warbler (Setophaga chrysoparia) and the black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla) are two species of small, insectivorous birds facing the threat of population decline due to habitat destruction. Noted for being the only bird species to nest exclusively in Texas, the golden-cheeked warbler resides in the Ashe juniper-oak woodlands of central Texas and is typically […]

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FERC Notice of Inquiry: Cyber Systems in Control Centers

by Michael C. Johnson August 11, 2016

Under Docket RM16-18-000, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on Cyber Systems in Control Centers to collect industry input on possible modifications for the Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Reliability Standards focused on cybersecurity for Control Centers that monitor and control the nation’s Bulk Electric System (BES). The NOI […]

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