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Road User Cost Manual

Section Index

BDC announcement BDC01T-07 (08/30/2001)

Download Road User Cost Manual (pdf 657k)
Download Appendix A - Example Problems (zip 136k)
Download Appendix C - Computation Worksheets (xls 53k)


Road User Costs in the work zone are added vehicle operating costs and delay costs to highway users resulting from construction, maintenance, or rehabilitation activity. They are a function of the timing, duration, frequency, scope, and characteristics of the work zone; the volume and operating characteristics of the traffic affected; and the dollar cost rates assigned to vehicle operations and delays.

This manual will familiarize the analyst with work zone and traffic characteristics, explain the possible work zone related road user cost components that can occur, and provide a step by step procedure to determine road user costs. Example problems, default hourly traffic percentages, and computation worksheets are also provided to aid the analyst with the road user cost computations. The worksheets and sample problems are calculated using English units of feet and miles. For users utilizing Metric units, the following conversions are applicable: 1 meter = 3.2808 feet & 1 kilometer = 0.62137 miles. The Metric units must be converted to English units prior to using the charts and worksheets.

Designers should consider road user costs when determining the most appropriate construction staging and final design. This should be done early in the design process while there is still flexibility in the design. The optimal design will mitigate or avoid disruptions before they can be created. In addition to considering road user costs for the present construction needs, the analysis procedure provides the tools to determine future road user costs based on future construction needs. By understanding the major factors influencing road user costs, the analyst can take steps to minimize the effect of planned future rehabilitation activities on highway users.

Road User Costs play an important role in computing Liquidated Damages. The contractor's failure to complete a contract or reopen a lane of traffic on time results in damages in terms of delay and cost to the motoring public and the Department. The procedures in this manual will establish how to calculate and apply these damages. Desirably, these damages will never be imposed because it is preferable to avoid high road user costs by adhering to the completion dates and allowable work hours provided in the contract. The methods of computing liquidated damages have taken into account input by the Construction Industry and reflect that road user costs are in fact real, but difficult to accurately calculate given the many factors involved and the different variables that exist on a given day in the life of a construction project.

Road user costs can be used in Benefit/Cost ratios, Life Cycle Cost Analyses, and selecting the most appropriate project delivery method (i.e., Incentive/Disincentive, A+B Bidding, etc.).

Road User Costs are not direct costs to the Department's budget, but they do directly affect the public it serves. For example, the construction of a $1 million full width shoulder to reduce Road User Costs by $2 million increases Department costs to reduce road user costs. This manual is an excellent tool in helping to determine the appropriate capital investment on a project.

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  Department of Transportation
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  Last Updated:  March 19, 2009