RES2020-21: Calculating road user cost for specific sections of highway for use in alternative contracting projects

Road construction and maintenance activities – while essential to maintain road users’ experience and Level of Service (LOS) – is also a source of inconvenience to the users. Oftentimes, during construction of busy highways, there are significant delays because of a lane closure and slower moving vehicles. Other times, roads may be completely closed – forcing road users to take longer alternative routes. As such, highway agencies are constantly working to reduce road users’ inconvenience by studying and implementing various alternative project delivery methods. While traditional project delivery methods focus solely on the direct construction cost or apparent lowest bid as a single factor to identify the best contractor from a pool of qualified bidders, some of the alternative project delivery methods such as A+B include road user cost as an additional factor to select the best contractor. A road user cost consists of various components such as user delay costs, vehicle operating costs, crash costs, and emission costs. To aid state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) in utilizing alternative contracting methods such as A+B, FHWA conducted a comprehensive study and developed a methodology to calculate monetary values and evaluate qualitative components of a road users cost (Mallela and Sadasivam 2011). However, the current methodology is very extensive, complex, time consuming, and requires extensive data sets. This includes various traffic data such as average annual daily traffic and travel delay time; economic data such as household income; and roadway geometry parameters. Some of the required data may be readily available in-house, while collecting others may require a significant investment of time. In the current context where the sizes of DOTs are shrinking, and each employee is responsible for performing more work than in the past, this is a significant challenge. State DOTs may not be able to spend extra time computing road user costs even if it may result in reduction in the overall project cost. Thus, such practice of calculating road user cost is limited because of the need of investing a significant amount of time to calculate it despite its potential benefits. Some attempts have been made in the past by Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to calculate a simplified version of road users cost for some Construction/Manager General Contractor (CMGC) projects such as the I-40 project in Davidson county. However, an oversimplification of the methodology might result in an inaccurate road user cost that might alter the decision on the choice of project delivery method and selection of the best contractor for the project. Thus, a more comprehensive and automated road user cost calculation methodology is needed to easily compute a road user cost and to use it for alternative project delivery methods such as A+B. This study will review past research on road users cost including FHWA’s “Work Zone Road User Costs” and develop and automate TDOT-specific road user cost calculation methodology to aid TDOT engineers in utilizing the readily available data to quickly calculate an accurate road user cost. The results of the study are expected to aid TDOT in deciding whether to use alternative project delivery methods such as A+B contracting method in any project, select the best bidder when such method is used, and compute liquidated damages and early project completion incentives.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $98,995.75
    • Contract Numbers:



    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Tennessee Department of Transportation

      James K. Polk Building
      Fifth and Deaderick Street
      Nashville, TN  United States  37243-0349
    • Managing Organizations:

      East Tennessee State University

      1276 Gilbreath Dr.
      Johnson City, TN  United States  37614
    • Project Managers:

      Taylor, Morgan

    • Performing Organizations:

      East Tennessee State University

      1276 Gilbreath Dr.
      Johnson City, TN  United States  37614
    • Principal Investigators:

      Shrestha, Joseph

      Uddin, Mohammad

      Kawsar, Ferdaus

    • Start Date: 20191119
    • Expected Completion Date: 20210831
    • Actual Completion Date: 0
    • USDOT Program: Transportation, Planning, Research, and Development

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01744406
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Tennessee Department of Transportation
    • Contract Numbers: RES2020-21, 40100-07219
    • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
    • Created Date: Jun 29 2020 2:58PM