A successful project outcome often depends on how well the tiny details are handled. With the U.S. Department of Transportation recently announcing $1.5 billion in grant funding for projects with significant local or regional impact, there are a growing number of major infrastructure projects that will require comprehensive quality control. At the core of implementing a quality approach method into a project is the desire to eliminate mistakes and meet client expectations.

Projects with poor quality standards lead to schedule challenges, financial implications and personal embarrassment, not to mention potential legal liability. An effective quality approach is achieved through innovative tools, collaborative teamwork and coordinated communication throughout every phase of a project.

The 30 Crossing design-build project was a prime example of incorporating quality approach measures from concept through completion. The project’s goal was to provide connections to five interstates and a freeway, a major river crossing over a busy navigation channel, congestion management and multimodal considerations — all in a congested urban area in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Check in Frequently

A comprehensive quality approach present throughout the design phase kept the project on budget and on schedule. To avoid miscommunications and check that the design addressed comments received, the team implemented frequent benchmarks at task force meetings, over-the-shoulder reviews and milestone plan reviews. By keeping routine check-ins, mistakes were caught and corrected early.

Keep the Client Informed

The team continually focused on the technical details to create a client-focused project. The quality schedule tool allowed the team to see each task’s status at a glance and check exactly where the project was in terms of timing. With this tool, the client gained greater visibility into the most up-to-date status of the project. Tasks were color coded to denote if they were behind or on schedule.

Employ a Numbering System

Reports and plans were all meticulously numbered to eliminate confusion when documents were transferred back and forth between teams. With more than 360,000 project sheets turned over, the potential for miscommunications posed a risk. A customized numbering system, however, differentiated each document to prevent errors from occurring when relaying the information over the course of the project, from design to construction.

All of these steps can improve communication among team members but the most important predictor of success is a shared commitment to quality. A project team that prioritizes quality management and works together to focus on the details is more likely to mitigate mistakes in the long run.


30 Crossing was a crucial example of how a quality approach can help provide for successful bridge, roadway and maintenance of traffic design. Discover how having an integrated team on your side can lead to reduced costs and expedited construction.

More on the Project

Dave Thurston is a project manager at Burns & McDonnell. Dave has over 30 years of experience in the transportation industry. In his role, Dave oversees the design and construction for transit, highway, smart city and aviation projects.