Preparing to Bid - Guide to Bidding on ADOT Projects

Prime Contractor

Requirements for Preparing the Bid

This section describes some of the specific steps and processes involved in preparing a bid for ADOT construction contracts as a Prime Contractor.

Learning about upcoming projects

After becoming prequalified, contractors must learn about upcoming ADOT projects to decide which ones to bid. Preparing a bid can be a time-consuming process, so many firms consider only those opportunities they are best suited to undertake and most likely to win. You should check the Contracts and Specifications website frequently to see when contract documents become available and when addendums to contract documents are issued. For more on learning about bid opportunities, visit the Learning about Bidding Opportunities page. 

You can also access an Active Project List for ADOT and Local Public Agencies, including the name and contact information of the Project Manager for the project and when bids will be advertised on the ADOT website.

A list of approved construction projects to be advertised are listed in the State Five-Year Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).  A copy of the STIP and any Amendments can be found in the Transportation Programming planning section of the ADOT website. 

Obtain Project Solicitation

Once you’ve identified a construction project you wish to bid, you must obtain the ADOT proposal pamphlet, project plans, and other materials pertaining to the project. Information on where to obtain these items and how much they will cost is noted in the advertisement for bids. Contract documents and other project documents are available as electronic files, at no charge, from the Contracts and Specifications Current Advertisements section of the ADOT website and from:

Contracts and Specifications Section
Arizona Department of Transportation
1651 W. Jackson St.
Room 121F
Phoenix, AZ 85007-3217
Phone: 602.712.7221

Obtain Plans and Specifications

Specification manuals, standard drawings and similar resources that may be useful to you while developing your bids are also available for purchase from:

Engineering Record Section
Arizona Department of Transportation
1655 W. Jackson St.
Room 175, MD 112F
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Phone: 602.712.8216 or 602.712.7498
Fax: 602.712.3235

A list of publications for sale can be found on the Contracts and Specifications page . The order form can be found in the same place.

Ask Questions about Projects

Identify any questions that you may have about a project and request help or clarification as soon as possible. Asking questions early, this gives ADOT more time to give you a complete answer and gives you more time to use their response to improve your bid. Note that after a project has been advertised, no contact can be made with ADOT staff regarding that project, except as specifically noted in the advertisement. All questions should be submitted, in writing, at least 5 days prior to the specified date in the advertisement.

You can also access an Active Project List for ADOT and Local Public Agencies, including the name and contact information of the Project Manager for the project and when bids will be advertised in the Management Services section of the ADOT website. 

Each Project is assigned a Project Manager that work on projects in Urban Areas, Statewide and to assist Local Public Agencies.  Contact information for ADOT Project Managers can be found in the Project Management section of the ADOT website.  Each construction project advertisement is also assigned to an Engineering Specialist in the Contracts and Specification Section.  Contact Contracts and Specifications at 602.712.7221 to find the Specialist assigned to the contract. 

Begin Preparing Your Bid

After obtaining all of the necessary information about the proposed project, you can use it to begin preparing your bid. First you must either purchase a bid set at Contracts and Specifications or register as a prime contractor through the online system at the Contracts and Specifications ads page. Most ADOT bidding can be done online using Bid Express, a third-party website which handles construction bidding for many different entities, including ADOT. Bid Express is not a free service — it includes both a one-time fee for creating an account and a monthly fee to continue using their service which you can use to develop your bid and submit it online.

Bids can also be prepared on paper and submitted in the envelope provided by ADOT to the Department listed in the bid advertisement.

While all bids are different, a key aspect of bidding is unit pricing. However, it is not always easy to know what an appropriate price for different items might be. A valuable source of information is the Bid Tabulations, which allow you to see how others have priced the same items in recently awarded projects. Historical tabulations are also available.

Obtain a Surety Bond

The ADOT construction contract you are bidding likely requires a surety bid bond or other proposal guaranty.

ADOT requires a proposal guaranty on all projects to ensure that no frivolous bids are submitted, and as evidence that the bidder has the intention and capability to complete the project. The proposal guaranty required by ADOT is a certified or cashier’s check for at least 10 percent of the bid amount (e.g., $100,000 for a 1 million dollar bid), or a bid bond for at least 10 percent of the bid amount. Most bidders use the surety bid bond option.

Bonds can be obtained from many insurance companies as well as from businesses that specialize in surety bonding. Obtaining a bond may take time, especially if you do not have a pre-existing relationship with a bonding agent. It is best to begin investigating bonds early in the bidding process, or well before you plan to bid a public project as a prime contractor.

Bid bonds must be submitted on the form provided by ADOT, and can only come from corporate sureties authorized to do business in Arizona. Contractors bidding electronically can use Surety 2000 or Insurevision to validate their bonds online and use the resulting electronic certificates as proof of bonding when submitting a bid.

Identify and Reach Out to Possible Subcontractors

Many companies bidding larger construction contracts use subcontractors for certain aspects of the work. For contracts with DBE contract goals, bidders must seek out DBE participation as subcontractors. To learn more about the DBE/SBC database, see the DBE/SBC database section on the Requirements for Contracts with DBE Provisions tab. 

ADOT encourages reaching out to potential DBE subcontractors well in advance of the bid date so that potential subcontractors have time to develop quotes for their portion of the work. For more information on locating DBE subcontractors, see the good faith efforts section on the Requirements for Contracts with DBE Provisions tab.  ADOT prepared a document detailing common ways an apparent low bidder could fail to win a contract due to errors in handling DBE goal requirements, titled “ Bidder Errors to Avoid.”

A document prepared by the Associated General Contractors AZ Chapter outlining tips for reaching out to subcontractors to secure bids is also available.

It should be noted that prime contractors are typically required to complete at least 40 percent of the contract value themselves. This means you need to be sure not to subcontract out more than 60 percent of the work to other firms.

Decide on Subcontractors and Inform Them of Your Decision

When you begin to assess the different subcontractors, bid price is important but is not the only factor to consider. Additionally, when deciding whether to use a DBE subcontractor, it is critical that you verify that the DBE subcontractor is certified to perform the type of work they will perform. If they are not certified for that type of work, the work they do will not count toward the DBE goal even if they are fully capable of performing the task.

Firms that you choose not to employ may ask you for information on why you didn’t accept their bid and how they might improve future bids. While you are not obligated to provide this information, doing so may help you get better bids from subcontractors in the future.

Ideally, all subcontractors will submit quotes to you well in advance of the bid deadline, and you will have time to leisurely decide among them. However, contractors often report adjusting bids just before the deadline and receiving new quotes with minutes to spare. Be prepared for last minute changes.

ADOT encourages prime contractors to treat subcontractors fairly and honestly when soliciting bids and selecting those subcontractors. ADOT discourages bid shopping by the prime contractor. 

Bidding Process including Electronic Bidding

Submitting your bid can be done either physically at the office noted in the bid advertisement or online at the BidExpress website. Whether submitted physically or online, ADOT must have your bid by the bid deadline. Submitting after the deadline will cause your bid to be rejected.

Finalizing and Submitting Bids

ADOT encourages bidders to take a moment to review whether they have included all pertinent information in their submission. Make sure you have all of the information and documentation requested in the project pamphlet — you don’t want to be the apparent low bidder only to have your bid rejected due to some missing paperwork.

Forms Submitted with Bid

When submitting your bid, be sure to include your proposal form, surety bid bond, acknowledgement of Addenda, and DBE assurance form (if the contract has a DBE goal) and any other documents required by the special provisions.

The DBE assurance form is an affidavit attesting that you either meet the DBE goal for the project or you made a good faith effort do so but were unsuccessful in meeting the DBE goal. It must be signed and notarized; be certain to leave time for this prior to submitting your bid. The assurance form can be found in the BECO section of the ADOT website.

Failure to fully complete and submit the DBE assurance form will result in the bid being rejected.

Reading, Checking and Evaluating Bid Results

Once the submission deadline has passed, bids are opened and publicly read. The date and location of the bid opening is listed in the advertisement for that project.

Following the opening, bids are carefully checked to ensure that no errors have been made. In particular, itemized costs are verified to ensure they match the stated total cost of the bid.

Once all bids have been verified, they are evaluated by ADOT and the apparent low bidder is named.

Post-Bid Submissions

After the bid opening, you will learn whether or not you are the apparent low bidder. If you are the 2nd low bidder, you may request a review of the low bid.

If you are not the apparent low bidder, you must submit a bidders list to the ADOT Business Engagement and Compliance Office by 4:00 p.m. on the fifth working day after the opening of the bids detailing all of the subcontractors, suppliers, service providers and manufacturers that submitted quotes to you or were included in your bid. This information is used by ADOT to better understand the current state of the construction industry and to determine future DBE goals. The bidder’s list can be submitted online at the AZ UTRACS site.

If you are the apparent low bidder on a contract with a DBE goal, in addition to submitting the bidders list, you must submit

  • DBE confirmation of participation form for each DBE subcontractor or supplier, signed by the DBE firm indicating that they intend to participate in the named project. This form can be found in the BECO section of the ADOT website.
  • DBE intended participation affidavit form for each DBE subcontractor or supplier, signed by the DBE firm and detailing the specific work it intends to do on the project. in the BECO section of the ADOT website,  and
  • DBE intended participation summary sheet signed by the prime contractor and listing every DBE subcontractor to be used during the project along with the general scope of their work and the total minimum contract amount assigned to them. in the BECO section of the ADOT website. 

If you were unable to meet the DBE goal in your bid, you must also submit evidence of your good faith efforts. See the good faith efforts section of the Requirements for Contracts with DBE Provisions tab. Failure to meet the Good Faith Efforts requirement will result in the bid being rejected.

If all of your paperwork is properly completed and submitted, and if your bid is determined to be responsive, Contracts and Specifications will recommend awarding the contract. Once the contract is awarded by the State Transportation Board, you will be notified by letter. At that point, you need to write and sign contracts with all of your subcontractors. It is your responsibility that every subcontractor and tier subcontractor contract contains a copy of FHWA 1273 that is signed and initialed on each page. FHWA 1273 can be found on the ADOT website. 

As-Read Bid Results

As-read bid results list the overall bid on a project for each bidder as well as the project cost estimated by ADOT. Reviewing as-read bid results will help your firm gauge how your bid compared with other bidders and ADOT's estimates, which should help improve your future bids. They can be found in the Contracts and Specification section of the ADOT website. 

Bid Tabulations

Bid tabulations show what each contractor bid for each item and their overall bid. Bid tabulations are posted after the project is awarded and reviewing them can help you by showing you areas your competitors are competitive on pricing and areas where you might have an advantage. They can be found in the Contracts and Specification section of the ADOT website.

Historical bid tabulations older than one month are also available.
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Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ADOT does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability. Persons that require a reasonable accommodation based on language or disability should contact ADOT’s Civil Rights Office at civilrightsoffice@azdot.gov. Requests should be made as early as possible to ensure the State has an opportunity to address the accommodation.

De acuerdo con el título VI de la Ley de Derechos Civiles de 1964 y la Ley de Estadounidenses con Discapacidades (ADA por sus siglas en inglés), el Departamento de Transporte de Arizona (ADOT por sus siglas en inglés) no discrimina por raza, color, nacionalidad, edad, género o discapacidad.  Personas que requieren asistencia (dentro de lo razonable) ya sea por el idioma o por discapacidad deben ponerse en contacto con la Oficina de Derechos Civiles en civilrightsoffice@azdot.gov. Las solicitudes deben hacerse lo más pronto posible para asegurar que el equipo encargado del proyecto tenga la oportunidad de hacer los arreglos necesarios.