Current Practices of Calculating and Utilizing Road User Costs in the U.S.

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Road user costs quantify the inconveniences to road users resulting from ongoing construction projects. Although the concept of road user costs has traditionally been associated with the life cycle cost analysis, its importance has increased in alternative contracting methods in recent years. Despite its importance, some state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) lack a systematic methodology to compute road user costs or have inconsistent methodologies within the same state DOT. This study reviewed existing literature on the topic and conducted a nationwide survey to understand the current practices of calculating and utilizing road user costs. The study found that 34 out of the 37 responding state DOTs are currently calculating road user costs. More than half of the state DOTs have developed their state-specific methodologies for various purposes including A + B contract evaluation, incentives/disincentives determination, and benefit–cost analysis for alternative project evaluation. The study also found that the DOTs’ decisions to calculate road user costs for a specific project primarily depends on the duration, location, and complexity of the project. The delay costs and the vehicle operating costs are the two most common components of road user costs. The results of this nationwide survey provide the most comprehensive details on road user cost calculation methodologies. These findings are expected to aid state DOTs in developing a new road user cost calculation methodology or improving an existing methodology. Such improved methodology will aid state DOTs in making more informed contractor-selection decisions.


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