Investigation of Legal Issues in Construction-Manager-at-Risk Projects: Case Study of Airport Projects

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Journal of Legal Affairs and Dispute Resolution in Engineering and Construction





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The use of alternative project delivery methods has increased significantly in the last decade. In the past, airport projects were designed and constructed using the traditional design-bid-build delivery method. However, recently airport owners have been extensively using construction-manager-at-risk (CMAR), lump-sum design-build, and progressive design-build to build both landside and airside projects. As new project delivery methods are used, airports have learned lessons related to legal and contractual issues in these types of projects. The objective of this paper is to investigate and highlight legal issues that arise in medium to large CMAR airport projects during design, construction, and closeout phases. The study covers legal issues related to design, environmental permitting, contract procurement and management, construction phasing, insurance requirements, local issues and outreach, dispute resolution methods, funding, hazardous material remediation, incentives and disincentives, project closeout, and operation and maintenance of these airport projects. To achieve the objective of this study, the paper utilized a case study methodology by gathering and analyzing contract documents from airport CMAR projects, as well as interviewing the project managers and construction lawyers working on these projects. Some of the lessons learned using the CMAR method were to ensure that the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and local laws allow for the procurement of these types of projects, as well as understanding the fact that design and construction management in these types of projects vastly differ from the traditional method. Other lessons learned, related to insurance, environmental permitting, dispute resolutions, and project labor agreements are discussed. Recommendations stemming from these findings are also highlighted, so airport owners will be aware of legal issues that can potentially arise on airport CMAR projects.


Construction-manager at-risk (CMAR); Airport projects; Legal issues procurement; Contracts; Lessons learned


Construction Engineering and Management



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