The construction phase brings the project into being. During construction, the features that have been agreed to by the Corps, the sponsor, and other project interests are built and begin to function as needed. Since we do not have our own construction workforce or equipment, we use contractors to actually build a project.
The construction phase begins after the Congress appropriates funds specifically for the initiation of construction and these funds are allotted to the local Corps District. The project cooperation agreement is signed after Congress appropriates funds for construction. This agreement, which is first drafted during the feasibility phase, may be the most important project document from your perspective. Jointly signed by you and the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), the agreement sets forth the partners' responsibilities and commitments for what will be built, cost sharing, real estate acquisitions and relocations, and other factors. You will be very involved in the preparation of this agreement, as well as the planning and engineering that leads to it.
You will be expected to play an active role in real estate activities throughout the project life cycle. However, the timely acquisition of real property interests is critical to the project, since construction cannot begin until this task has been completed, and it is primarily your responsibility. Real estate acquisition begins when we provide you with written descriptions and/or final right-of-way drawings that show the area and estates required for the project and notify you in writing to begin acquisition. The types of real property interests to be acquired will vary from project to project. Usually, fee simple or some type of standardized easement estate is required, and acquisition is by lease, purchase, donation, or condemnation. Formal notification to proceed will occur at the same time as, or soon after, the PCA is signed.
Ordinarily, sponsors acquire any necessary real property interests, however you may request the Corps to acquire them on your behalf. If we elect to perform this service, you will be solely responsible for all costs of the requested services and must provide sufficient funds in advance of our incurring any financial obligation associated with this work. However, you are ultimately responsible for acquiring the necessary real estate, seeking assistance when needed, and seeing to it that all legal requirements are met. In either case, title to real property interests is normally retained by the sponsor. The time required for real estate acquisition varies from project to project depending upon the acreage, number of tracts and ownerships, and experience and capability of sponsors. Advertisement of the construction contract may proceed when we certify that you have obtained adequate real property interests. You typically need only provide the Corps with authorization for entry and proof that you have sufficient interest in the necessary lands. In addition you will be responsible for:
- Preparing surveys, maps and legal descriptions.
- Performing individual tract appraisals.
- Obtaining title evidence and performing curative work.
- Conduct of negotiations and eminent domain proceedings.
- Providing relocation assistance services and processing relocation assistance claims and appeals by displaced persons.
- Performing or ensuring the performance of relocations of utilities and public facilities.
- Submitting lands, easements, rights-of-way, relocations, and disposal areas (LERRD)s credit requests for approval and documenting same.
Construction work at the project site begins soon after the PCA is approved and executed, the real estate is acquired, and a contract is awarded. The job of building the project may take several years to complete if the project consists of large or complex structures, such as a dam. Smaller projects, such as short stretches of channels, can often be finished in much less time. Construction is considered to be complete when the project has been inspected and accepted from the contractor, and it is turned over to you for use, usually including operation and maintenance.
The cost to build a project is shared between the Corps and the sponsor in accordance with the requirements of various Federal laws, especially the Water Resources Development Act of 1986. Different cost sharing requirements apply to projects with different purposes. These requirements are discussed in detail in the next section of this document.
The focus of construction activities is at the project site; and includes activities like earthmoving, concrete placing, seeding and planting, and other activities. Two major documents are also prepared during this phase: the construction contract(s), which is the agreement between the Corps and the contractor(s) about how the project will be built, and the project operation and maintenance (O&M) manual, which is the instructions for you to follow for project use after construction is finished. Some projects require several contracts and manuals. Key construction events are:
- Construction funds are appropriated.
- PCA approved and executed.
- Construction contract advertised.
- Construction contract awarded.
- Various project-specific construction events, such as: land clearing, rock placement, fill placement on embankment, and test of water release gates.
- Operation and maintenance manual approved.
- Construction completed.
- Project accepted and transferred to you.
- As construction proceeds, you should be actively involved with us in reviewing contract documents, and monitoring fiscal and physical progress as work is conducted. You must also work very closely with us in reviewing the operation and maintenance manual to ensure that it reflects your needs and limitations, and that it is easily understood and helpful to its future users.