Causes of Road and Bridge Construction Claims: Analysis of Colorado Department of Transportation Projects


Road and highway construction projects are plagued by unanticipated conditions and changes, which cause claims and cost overruns due to diverse causes. This study identified a set of project factors that might affect the rate of claim occurrence in different projects and used data from Colorado Department of Transportation projects to test the potential causes of claims to assess which project management attributes are most likely to lead to claims. A total of 780 projects were selected from a data set of 1,060 projects completed in a time window from 1997 to 2012. These showed 213 claims within a subset of 62 claim-contained projects. Results showed that delays are the main cause of claims in the projects studied and are more important than the effects of added items and change orders. The study also showed that projects with fixed completion date schedules are more susceptible to claims than projects with more flexible schedules. Actions indicated are for transportation project planners to adopt detailed approved schedules and seek accurate time estimates prior to bidding, to create comprehensive delay claim management systems, and to seek to resolve claims at the lowest management levels. The analysis also indicated that fixed-date completion schedules apply pressure on contractors and owners and can incentivize claims.


Technology and Construction Management

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Journal of Legal Affairs and Dispute Resolution in Engineering and Construction