Section 5: General Notes

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The purpose of the General Notes is to provide, in one section of the plans, the various supplemental data required by the specifications. This can consist of information such as base material requirements, gradation requirements, density requirements, and surface treatment data. The General Notes sometimes includes the Basis of Estimate. The Basis of Estimate is necessary for plans preparation and review, for basis of bid preparation, and for control of construction. It should show the basis for estimating each of the pay quantities of the contract, which cannot be directly measured from the plans. These include such items as sprinkling, rolling, blading, lime, fertilizer, asphalt, aggregate, etc., and should include compaction factors and unit weight for flexible base and embankment items when this information is needed for estimating purposes. Sometimes these items are subsidiary and should be indicated as such.

The sheets are also intended for general design notes such as variations in slopes, superelevation of curves, concrete surface finish, paint price list, protection system for structures, and type of bedding for concrete pipe. (The type of bedding for concrete pipe should be shown in the Culvert Summary where different structures require different bedding). This use of General Notes has successfully provided for the recording of such data as closed season dates for the application of asphaltic materials and minor modification of gradation requirements which are available in acceptable usage. General Notes are included in bidding proposals for ready reference by contractors, materials suppliers, etc.

The rest of this section discusses:

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Key Points Regarding General Notes

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  • General Notes must be set up in the Microsoft Word "General Notes" template and converted to .pdf for use in building the proposal prior to submission to DES.
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  • The use of notes furnishing quantities that are subject to change because of sequence of construction operations, such as designating portions of unclassified road excavation as rock excavation or foundation course, has resulted in confusion in interpretation and in some cases litigation in which the department has been successfully contested.
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  • Where quantities for subsidiary items are available and are accurate, they should be shown but should be labeled “FOR CONTRACTOR’S INFORMATION ONLY”.

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  • All proposed plans notes should be worded so that they are clear, concise and can have only one meaning.
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Specification Modifications

Modification of Specifications by General Note is not allowed. General Notes are to be used to give information when allowed by the specification by the use of terms such as “as shown on the plans,” “as directed by the engineer,” or others. Or, they may be used to supplement information by the specification such as the closed season for asphaltic materials and curing required for base materials. In no case are General Notes to be used to change, revise or modify the requirements of a Standard Specification, Special Specification, or Special Provision. Special Provisions are necessary for revisions to Standard Specifications or Special Specifications. All notes should be referred to the specification to which they apply.

Special Provisions take precedence over the General Notes, in case of a conflict, in accordance with Article 5.4 of the Standard Specifications, which is available at this address:

The General Notes should not be used to reiterate that which is already covered in the Standard Specifications, Special Provisions and/or Special Specifications. The use of these sheets should be minimized.

Each of the Standard Specifications, Special Provisions and Special Specifications used in a project as a direct pay item or reference item must be examined carefully. Those specifications that require “as shown on the plans” information must be completed by plan notes in the General Notes sheets. There are some instances where such terms are in the specifications to allow flexibility. But, there are also those that must be shown in the General Notes in order to have the complete information. This may consist of material specifications, design criteria, gradation requirements, density requirements and surface treatment data.

Numerical dimensions govern over scaled dimensions. Special provisions govern over plans (including general notes), which govern over standard specifications and special specifications. Job-specific plan sheets govern over standard plan sheets.

However, in the case of conflict between plans (including general notes) and specifications regarding responsibilities for hazardous materials and traffic control in Items 1 through 9, “General Requirements and Conditions” and Item 502, “Barricades, signs, and Traffic Handling,” special provisions govern over standard specifications and special specifications, which govern over the plans.

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Processing General Notes

For instructions go to: http://crossroads/org/des/tools/props/index.asp, and select “Proposal Creation and Printing.”

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