Letter to the Editor: An Explanation of Terms Related to Design Plans

~Submitted by John McClain

There has been some confusion about the 100 percent design plans for the Minuteman Extension and how they bind the contractor.

The town has said it can’t dictate “means and methods,” causing concern that the town has no control once the project starts. “Means and methods” is a specific term in the construction industry, applying to basically all construction projects. It means the owner (here the town) specifies what they want done (or not done) but they don’t get to dictate how the contractors does it.

Many features on the plans are marked “PROP” or “PROPOSED.” Proposed means “this is what the owner is contracting to be built,” contrast with the existing conditions (also on the plans). Once a bid is accepted neither side (owner or contractor) can change the proposal willy-nilly. The contractor will operate under ongoing regular oversight from the town and the design team.

Related, the plans show the entire scope of work, independent of whose land it happens on. Contractors submit their bids based on the 100 percent plans, so the plans have to be all inclusive.

The 100 percent plans drive permitting and bidding, but are hardly ever the final plan. Plans routinely change after 100 percent design, but typically in small ways in response to requests from the owner, or unforeseen conditions. Both revisions that have been made to these plans since spring have shrunk the project at the requests of the town.

For Town Meeting, the greatest interest are the grubbing, grading, and temporary construction easement lines. Grubbing lines define the furthest possible boundary for clearing vegetation. Grading lines bound the actual construction work (e.g. placing pavement or changing the contours of land). For much of the project these two lines are on top of each other.

The space between grading / grubbing line(s) and the temporary construction easement line give workers space to work. Putting in a post for guard rails may involve standing outside the grading area to hold it up while it goes in. If the easement wasn’t there the worker would be trespassing. Temporary easements aren’t places where the contractor can do whatever they want. The contractor is responsible for any damage outside of the grubbing and grading lines – even if they are inside the construction easement

I urge anyone with questions about the project to reach out to our excellent town staff by mailing bikeway@bedfordma.gov.


The opinions expressed in Letters to the Editor are those of the writer, not The Bedford Citizen.


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