Synthesis of Countermeasure Costs User Guide

Background

Crash modification factors/ (CMFs) are a valuable tool that can help identify the most effective countermeasures to improve roadway infrastructure safety. Transportation professionals need CMFs, countermeasure service life, countermeasure costs, and crash severity costs to conduct an economic appraisal or crash based cost benefit analysis of potential countermeasures for implementation. Crash based cost benefit analyses provide users with a quantitative measure to assist in determining which safety areas or countermeasures would be most cost effective for addressing safety concerns and helping to reduce the number and severity of crashes in a particular area.

The CMF Clearinghouse provides an online database of all available CMFs as well as the recently published “Synthesis of Countermeasure Service Life and Crash Severity Costs User Guide.” However, synthesized information on countermeasure costs is lacking. Therefore, FHWA conducted a synthesis to identify information used by the states for countermeasure costs. The results of the synthesis are included in this user guide.

The availability of roadway infrastructure countermeasure cost information and the way in which transportation agencies report costs vary considerably from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Various factors influence cost, including but not limited to the types of material used, project scale, existing infrastructure, local climate conditions, and local economic conditions. This user guide includes the most up-to-date countermeasure cost information found nationwide and can be used for project prioritization and estimating purposes when local countermeasure cost information is not available. This information should not be used for determining actual prices for specific infrastructure projects.

Literature Review

The research team conducted a literature review of each state to identify sources of publicly available roadway infrastructure countermeasure cost information. In order to include costs for as many countermeasures as possible, the research team explored State DOT and city websites for resources and conducted targeted keyword searches for specific countermeasures and countermeasure categories using conventional search engines. Drawing from city plans and other sources, these targeted searches provided information that was otherwise unavailable from other sources.

Many resources provided detailed descriptions and information but provided limited or categorical cost information (“low”, “high”, or “varies”). The research team found the majority of the information collected for this effort in general countermeasure or traffic calming fact sheets and information pages, municipality master plans, and contractor bid sheets for specific infrastructure projects. The research team also collected cost information from other sources such as average unit price sheets (AUPs) but did not include the cost information in the database. In particular, many of the AUPs were difficult to interpret and in most cases included redundant cost information that did not enhance the cost information already collected for a particular countermeasure. Also, the level of detail provided in the AUPs was far greater than the detail provided in all other resources. The research team concluded that this level of detail did not align with the scope of this project and what would be useful to most researchers and practitioners using this synthesis.

Appendix A includes the results of the literature review. Some states have multiple resources and report costs for numerous countermeasures whereas other states lack publicly available cost information or report costs for only a small number of countermeasures. The research team did not include any cost information for Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, or Vermont.

Synthesis Results

The countermeasure cost database synthesizes the information identified through the literature review. Appendix B includes a brief description of the data variables. In total, the research team obtained countermeasure cost information for 44 states plus the District of Columbia and national resources. The database summarizes countermeasure cost information for 308 countermeasures across 18 countermeasure categories. The countermeasure categories are consistent with those in the CMF Clearinghouse. The database includes the source data and the respective hyperlink for most of the cost entries in the database. All provided costs are in the source year dollars. Thus, anyone using this information will need to adjust the dollar amount to the current year using the United States Consumer Price Index published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The countermeasure cost database includes the most up-to-date cost figures that were available. Approximately 59 percent of resources reported costs within the last five years (2011-2015) with 22 percent from 2010 or later and 19 percent undetermined. Outdated resources still provide useful information for project planning for states where current cost information is not available. For example, the most comprehensive resource from Missouri is a Missouri DOT publication (1999) reporting 1998 costs.

Some resources specify whether additional costs are associated with a countermeasure such as material, installation, design, or maintenance costs. The database includes these details as comments for each respective countermeasure entry. Some resources, however, report costs as “implementation costs” (installation costs) but do not specify what is included in the implementation.

For all cases, the research team categorized costs as either “material cost only” or “implementation cost” based on details reported in the original figures and the language in the document. This process was straightforward for resources that specified whether additional costs (i.e., material, installation, design, maintenance costs) were associated with a countermeasure. Some resources, however, reported costs as “implementation costs” without specifying what was included in the implementation. This generated some degree of uncertainty as to the meaning of the reported cost. For these countermeasures, the research team assessed all available information and applied the category that seemed most appropriate. For this reason, the research team intends for this document and the associated database to be used as a general guideline for estimating future project implementation costs.

The research team produced summary tables from the countermeasure cost database to present the results of the synthesis. Below is a description of the summary tables. They can also be accessed at the CMF Clearinghouse website.

Countermeasure Cost by Countermeasure

The CMF Clearinghouse uses 18 countermeasure categories, and the research team produced a summary table for each category. Various costs for countermeasures populate the cells. Table 1 provides a description of each field in the countermeasure cost summary tables.

It is important to note that the research team studied each countermeasure closely due to the variation in reported costs and cost units for each resource found. The research team used their expertise to convert varying cost units for a given countermeasure into one common unit. For example, the research team converted all distance units (km, linear foot, mile, etc.) and all object units (location, intersection, island, approach) to the unit that made most sense for a given countermeasure. Additionally, some resources noted that the reported cost for a given countermeasure was for 8 locations or 25 miles of roadway. In these instances, the research team divided costs by the number of locations (or reported distance) in order to be able to combine multiple resources for a single countermeasure. Table 1 provides the average, low end, and high end costs for unit cost, total installed cost, and annual maintenance cost as described below.

Table 1. Variables for countermeasure cost summary tables

Variable

Definition

Example/Notes

Countermeasure Category

Countermeasure category used by the CMF Clearinghouse.

 

Countermeasure Name

Name of countermeasure cleaned for uniformity by the research team.

“Install rumble strips on shoulders”, “Install shoulder rumble strips”, and “Shoulder rumble strips” were all renamed to “Install shoulder rumble strips”.

Cost Per Unit or Average Cost Per Unit

The unit cost or average unit cost reported for a particular countermeasure.

If a single cost entry exists, the value shown is the cost per unit. If multiple cost entries exist, the value shown is the average cost per unit.

Low End of Cost Per Unit

The lowest value of the range of cost per unit.

 

High End of Cost Per Unit

The highest value of the range of cost per unit.

 

Cost Unit

The unit of cost indicated by the resource or research team.

Per mile, per intersection, per foot, etc. In some cases, the “Cost Per Unit” and the “Installed Costs” have different units. Example: “Install shared lane markings” has a cost unit of “per sharrow/per mile” indicating the unit costs are per sharrow and the installed costs are per mile.

Estimated or Average Total Installed Treatment Cost

The estimated or average total installed treatment cost reported for a particular countermeasure.

Costs may include material, labor, equipment, etc. If a single cost entry exists, the value shown is the estimated installed treatment cost. If multiple cost entries exist, the value shown is the average installed treatment cost.

Low End of Estimated Total Installed Treatment Cost

The lowest value of the range of the total installed treatment cost.

 

High End of Estimated Total Installed Treatment Cost

The highest value of the range of the total installed treatment cost.

 

Average Annual (Maintenance) Cost

The average annual maintenance cost reported for a particular countermeasure.

 

Low End of Average Annual (Maintenance) Cost

The lowest value of the range of the average annual maintenance cost.

 

High End of Average Annual (Maintenance) Cost

The highest value of the range of the average annual maintenance cost.

 

State

Abbreviation of state name.

If more than one entry exists, multiple states are listed.

Number of Records

The number of records used to summarize cost information.

 

Year Range

The range of years cost information is reported from.

All costs are provided in the source year dollars.

 

Additional National Resources

While searching for resources for this effort, the research team found two national sources that could also be of use to researchers and practitioners. The research team did not include the information contained in these two documents in the database developed for this effort because they include different cost sources. Provided below is a brief summary of each resource.

NCHRP Project 17-48: Highway Infrastructure and Operations Safety Research Needs (Appendix R)

The objectives of NCHRP 17-48 were to:

As part of this effort, the research team assembled a countermeasure cost database using bid letting information or price indices from state and local agencies. The cost information contained in this report should be used only for estimating purposes and research prioritization.

“Costs for Pedestrian and Bicyclist Infrastructure Improvements”

This report is intended to provide meaningful estimates of infrastructure costs by collecting up-to-date cost information for pedestrian and bicycle treatments from states and cities across the country. Researchers, engineers, planners, and the general public can use this information to better understand the cost of pedestrian and bicycle treatments in their communities and make informed decisions about which infrastructure enhancements are best suited for implementation.

Summary

It is important for researchers and practitioners to have as much information as possible when selecting which countermeasures to use to improve roadway infrastructure safety and reduce the number and severity of crashes. Crash based cost benefit analyses are a great tool for states to use to determine which countermeasures would be most cost effective in improving safety for roadway users. Countermeasure cost information is a necessary piece needed to conduct these analyses. The results of this synthesis will provide researchers and practitioners with additional information to conduct economic appraisals of potential countermeasures.

The information contained in the Crash Modification Factors (CMF) Clearinghouse is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in the CMF Clearinghouse. The information contained in the CMF Clearinghouse does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation, nor is it a substitute for sound engineering judgment.