Following state law, the secretary of transportation then awards the construction contract to the lowest responsible bidder, a private contractor, who is obligated to build the project according to the plan requirements and specifications upon which the bid was received.
The exception to this process is a method called "design-build." These types of contracts are awarded to a team of designers and builders based on technical presentations and cost. Having one contract for design, environmental permitting, right-of-way acquisition, utility relocation and construction reduces overall construction time, helps NCDOT avoid cost inflation and allows the contractor to make innovations that save taxpayers money, lessens environmental impact and alleviates driving delays for motorists.
NCDOT's Division of Highways administers the contract. An NCDOT resident engineer and his/her staff provide local project management, and along with project inspectors interpret plan details and contract requirements, test for quality, check for conformity with contractual requirements and document the quantity of work performed so the contractor can be paid on a monthly basis. The resident engineer and staff also make certain the environment is protected, manage traffic flow along the project, work with adjacent property owners, observe work zone safety and oversee coordination with state and federal agencies.
Before a road opens to traffic and before the project is considered complete, an NCDOT engineer not involved in the project's construction conducts a final inspection to verify that it has been completed properly.