Change orders continue to be one of the main challenges faced by the construction industry. Despite many previous research efforts related to managing change orders in the construction industry, there is still a lack of research that investigates the contractual aspects of change orders for transportation projects. This paper tackles this knowledge gap within the context of Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) highway projects. To this end, the authors used an integrated research method comprised of (1) selection and analysis of ODOT case studies; (2) identification of the main change orders aspects that lead to conflicts, claims, and/or disputes in the considered case studies; and (3) analysis of the contractual provisions and procedures related to change orders on ODOT projects. The authors consulted throughout all the research steps with ODOT experts for verification and validation. Through the analysis of 10 ODOT case studies, results show that the major contractual challenges related to change orders on ODOT projects are caused by definition terms and their associated processes, approvals according to the contractual provisions, and approvals in light of the applicable laws. Accordingly, this paper identifies (1) a list of opportunities and risks, and (2) a series of checklist questions. These research outcomes shall help project parties in identifying the contract terms that can lead to improper handling of change orders, and thus facilitate better managing of change orders on ODOT projects. Ultimately, this research adds to the body of knowledge by providing contractual guidelines to facilitate a better administration of the contractual procedures of change orders for a timely and cost-effective execution of highway transportation projects.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1943-4170; 1943-4162

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2023 American Society of Civil Engineers, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 May 2022