Systematic Approach for Determining Construction Contract Time: A Guidebook

Establishing an appropriate contract time is an important step in the transportation project development process. Contract time affects construction cost, inconvenience for the public, economic impact in areas surrounding the construction project, and schedule risks. Contract time derives from an interaction of project characteristics, construction methodology, technology, and agency policies. Being able to develop credible estimates of contract time is crucial to any transportation agency’s decision making; risk management; and ability to develop, operate, and maintain the transportation system for which they are responsible. In addition, state departments of transportation (DOTs) using federal funds are required by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to adopt a formal procedure for estimating construction project contract time. (Refer for example to Technical Advisory 5080.15, FHWA Guide for Construction Contract Time Determination Procedures, dated 10/15/2002, at However, the literature (represented, for example, by a search of the TRB’s integrated TRID database) includes few studies of methods for estimating contract time or the accuracy of such estimates. A survey conducted as part of work reported in NCHRP Synthesis 502: Practices for Establishing Contract Completion Dates for Highway Projects found that 68% of the 41 DOT respondents had formal, documented procedures for estimating project contract time, but over 50% of these respondents did not formally evaluate the quality of their procedures or the reliability of contract-time estimates. Research is needed to provide guidance DOTs can use to produce consistently credible, reliable, and defensible contract-time estimates. The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook that DOTs can use to establish and maintain a systematic approach to determining credible and defensible contract times for projects using conventional and alternative contracting methods (e.g., design-bid-build without or with completion incentives and disincentives, design-build, construction-manager/general-contractor (CMGC), and other variations). The guidebook should address at least the following topics: (1) Key factors that influence contract time duration and uncertainty, for example construction production rates, regional conditions, involvement of utilities, project priority or significance, technology advancement, and contracting strategy; (2) A framework for defining and evaluating the components of contract time, such as construction methods, site conditions, and project scope and complexity; (3) Definition and measurement of effectiveness of techniques and processes for contract time determinations; (4) Methodologies for making credible and defensible estimates of contract time; (5) The relationship of contract time to risk management' (6) Strategies for post-project contract-time evaluation and other methods to improve effectiveness of contract time determination; and (7) Strategies for developing, maintaining, and effectively applying experience and knowledge of contract-time determination throughout the agency.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $500000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 08-114

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Harwood, Leslie

  • Performing Organizations:

    Texas A&M University, College Station

    318 Jack K. Williams Administration Building
    College Station, TX  United States  77843
  • Principal Investigators:

    Jeong, David

  • Start Date: 20180727
  • Expected Completion Date: 20200830
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 41627

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01634934
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 08-114
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: May 18 2017 1:00AM