Calculating Road User Cost for Specific Sections of Highway for Use in Alternative Contracting Project

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Road user costs (RUCs) quantify the inconveniences to road users resulting from ongoing construction projects. Although the concept of RUC has traditionally been associated with the life cycle cost analysis, its importance has increased in alternative contracting methods in recent years. Despite its importance, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) currently lacks a systematic methodology to compute RUCs. With the increased use of alternative contracting such as A+B, TDOT can benefit significantly if a systematic methodology and a tool are developed to compute RUCs in-house. The main goal of this study is to develop a framework and accompanying tool to compute RUCs, which balances the ease of computing and accuracy of results. To achieve this goal, the study reviewed existing literature on the topic, conducted a nationwide survey, and identified the current best practices of calculating and utilizing RUCs. The study found that more than half of the state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) that responded to the questionnaire have developed their state-specific methodologies to compute RUCs. The delay costs and the vehicle operating costs are the two most common components computed by a majority of state DOTs. Based on the findings of the study, a framework to compute RUCs is developed to enable TDOT to quickly compute RUCs more efficiently. Subsequently, a spreadsheet based TDOT RUC Calculation Tool (TRCT) is developed to implement the framework. The tool can compute four components of the RUC: a) delay cost, b) vehicle operating cost, c) crash cost, and d) emission cost. Relevant standard datasets such as median household income and emission rates were collected and/or produced for the tool. The tool automatically accounts for the spatiotemporal variation in the RUCs using Consumer Price Index (CPI) and county-specific data. The computed RUCs can be used for A+B contracting, benefit-cost analysis, liquidated damage computation, and early-completion-incentive computation.