Inside the Grand Avenue bridge war room
Question: How does the contractor manage all of the different construction activities occurring simultaneously on the Grand Avenue bridge project?
The simple answer is that the contractor has a “war room.” But what is a war room? It’s a military term referring to a centralized command and logistics center. The Grand Avenue bridge project’s war room is located at the Granite/RLW Joint Venture office in West Glenwood. The 20-by-30-foot room is headquarters for the internal management of the various construction activities.
Let’s take a look inside. It’s Wednesday morning at the Grand Avenue bridge project, and like clockwork, the construction team is meeting internally to plan the next five-week look ahead. Three engineers on the construction team, with different roles and disciplines, work together to deliver the five-week look ahead and schedule the subcontractors assigned to them.
The walls are filled with dry erase boards and written construction timelines, and the deliverables are larger than life. Shortly after lunch, subcontractors, CDOT project staff and city staff appear to attend the weekly construction status meeting. Topics covered include job site safety, public information, traffic impacts, environmental concerns and a look at the upcoming construction activities.
On one wall is the “war board,” n another a large screen, and in the back is the Critical Path Method (CPM) chart. The room is filled with maps, and the project goals are written large for everyone to see. Completed and incomplete project milestones are posted in bold lettering.
Granite/RLW Joint Venture is responsible for a CPM plan; this is a construction timeline that has more than 2,000 items of scheduled construction activities over the course of the 30 months. Each week in the war room, information and scheduling is transferred from the CPM to the war board, which covers one of the long walls.
The war room brings the written contract and construction timelines to life. You can’t miss the deliverables written each week in different colors for different construction activities. The war board is a visual of upcoming material needs, manpower and equipment needed as well as critical path items. It also helps identify long lead times and considers all the constraints of the project.
Gaylen Stewart, construction manager for the joint venture, describes this room as a way for internal construction information to be circulated to external project partners, subcontractors and CDOT. The war board is a great visual communication tool. It allows for the managers to take complex construction timelines and simplify them so everyone can see upcoming work.
We rely so much on computers, emails, texting for communication, but nothing can quite replicate the effectiveness of the war room logistics wall. It’s a visual management tool that helps the contractor deliver the project on schedule and communicate needs to CDOT.
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