Montgomery County, Ohio, Keeps Road Construction Moving Swiftly (Industry Perspective)

To administer road construction projects in real time and avoid complex software that keeps engineers tethered to the office, the Montgomery County Engineer's Office chose a Web-based, mobile-accessible service that provides real-time online collaboration and data collection on mobile devices.

by Valerie Riley / November 6, 2015
The Ridge Avenue Bridge project in Dayton, Ohio, a rendering of which is shown here, replaces a two-span steel girder bridge constructed in 1927. Montgomery County

Home to the city of Dayton and several higher education institutions, Montgomery County, Ohio, has a fitting slogan: the "birthplace of innovation." With 550,000 residents, it is the fifth most populous county in Ohio, and is well situated -- at the junction of Interstate 70 and Interstate 75 between Cincinnati and Columbus — for business and commerce. 

The Montgomery County Engineer's Office manages an annual budget of $16 million for 320 miles of road and bridge construction, operation and maintenance, with funding coming from gas tax and vehicle registration fees. To help better manage construction administration and inspection, the county sought the latest Web-based technology focused on usability — and set its sights on Info Tech’s Appia service.

The Web-based, mobile-accessible service manages daily reporting, funding, items, change orders and payments with an intuitive interface and multiple role types for controlled, real-time collaboration.

“With a Web service, we don’t have to back up and transfer the data back and forth between the field and the database at our main office,” said Construction Administrator Daniel R. Medeiros. “The data is real time, as opposed to before when the update was manually performed. The inspectors can enter data from the job site, as it happens, eliminating the ‘memory factor’ and producing more accurate and complete information.”

The service also lets the county engineers work remotely.

“I can review and approve daily reports, estimates and change orders from almost anywhere,” Medeiros said. “This capability saves a lot of time, since I am mostly ‘in the field’ and not at a desk in the office. I can also perform these tasks at home, after normal business hours, which occurs quite frequently.”

The service is accessed by team members on iPhones, iPads and laptops in the field, and on desktop computers for those in the office. The county also utilizes the free read-only licenses, which makes information available to those who need it, such as new users and administrative team members, while also saving money. 

The service tracks all aspects of daily activities, including work force, idle and used equipment, and materials management, complete with photo documentation that adds to the credibility of reporting.

“Whenever claims or disputes arise, usually the one with the most accurate and complete information prevails,” Medeiros said. “With that in mind, negotiation of change orders or extra work in Appia is extremely accurate and simple, thus saving time and money. The fact that the information is captured as it happens lends to the accuracy and reliability.”

The county recently used the service on a few projects with multiple fund sources, including the $5.3 million North Dixie Drive Roadway Improvements in Harrison Township and the city of Vandalia, which had five funding sources; and the $5.2 million Ridge Avenue bridge replacement in the city of Dayton, which had two funding sources. Because the service can handle multiple funding sources, there was no confusion. 

“Appia has the capability of setting up funding packages, making it much easier to track pay items which may or may not be eligible for reimbursement from certain funding sources,” Medeiros said.

As for ROI, Medeiros said that contractors are benefiting from prompt, accurate payments, including change order payments, which translates into lower bid prices from those contractors. He also said that he and other project engineers are making fewer trips to job site, and the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration have more confidence that their funds are being used according to their standards and proper record-keeping practices. 

“Successful audits translate into procuring future funding from these sources,” he said. “Using the Appia service has affected our budgets by accurately tracking pay quantities and change order information, potentially keeping those costs down much more than before.” 

Valerie Riley is the senior manager of Marketing & Communications for Info Tech Inc., which offers products and services to facilitate and expedite infrastructure e-construction across the U.S. and Canada.