Erecting a bridge is no small feat, and it often takes several years to complete such projects. This can impact traffic in the area, inconveniencing motorists. So, it is preferable that such projects are completed by the deadlines included in the construction contracts between the project owner and contractor.
One bridge in Massachusetts -- Boston's Commonwealth Avenue Bridge -- is heavily used by residents every day. However, the 53-year-old bridge needed to be replaced. Thus, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation chose to execute this project through the "accelerated bridge construction" process. While this process has a greater effect on traffic patterns than conventional bridge construction, such projects are often completed in a shorter amount of time.
The main contractor to the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge project was given 20 days to totally reconstruct the eastbound side of the bridge. However, the amount of time it took to assemble the crane used to execute this portion of the project negatively impacted the contractor, as it took extra work and caused the contractor to incur extra expenses that were not accounted for in the contract.
Thus, once that portion of the project was completed and work was set to complete the same process within 15 days on the westbound side of the bridge, the contractor chose to utilize two different types of cranes that could be assembled in a shorter amount of time. The use of these cranes along with the concerted efforts of all those working on the project allowed each portion of the project to be completed within the deadline imposed by the construction contracts and, in some cases, even ahead of schedule.
As this shows, when parties enter into construction contracts, these contracts will include deadlines for when various portions of the project must be completed. Contractors need to ensure that they have the means and ability to meet these timelines. If a project is completed ahead of schedule, it can benefit both the project owner and the contractor. Some construction contracts even provide incentives for early completion of the project or, as was the case with the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, disincentives for missing deadlines. Since missing these deadlines can lead to contract disputes, it is important that contractors consider what is necessary to execute the project before signing a construction contract, to ensure the contract will not be breached.