The National Academies

TCRP G-07 [Completed]

Managing Capital Costs of Major Federally Funded Public Transportation Projects

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: Booz-Allen & Hamilton
Principal Investigator: Donald Schneck
Effective Date: 9/4/2003
Completion Date: 12/1/2005

    Effective management of major federally funded transportation projects is critical. Recent, national publicity about some large, high-visibility transportation projects has called into question the ability of the transportation industry to forecast accurately and to contain the final cost of such projects. In some cases, the final costs (or revised cost projections during project construction) have been significantly higher than the cost estimates prepared and released at earlier phases of a project or at the start of its construction. Some have suggested that, in some instances, project cost estimates might reflect purposeful underestimation of costs by project sponsors or local political officials in an effort to secure project approval or funding by voters and government agencies.

    Many factors may influence the costs of a major federally funded transportation project over its life, which may span decades and include major changes to the project and its setting. These factors include economic and market conditions; unforeseen engineering and construction complexities; organizational capacity to undertake the project; relationships among the owner, engineer, construction manager, and cost estimator; changes in project scope; changes in regulatory requirements; local governmental concerns; and community expectations.

    Specific to public transportation projects, the Federal Transit Administration's major capital investment process specifies a continuum of activities through which a project must advance. During the process, project costs are estimated and decisions are made whether to proceed with the project. At project completion, the actual as-built cost can be documented. The FTA Project Development Process includes the following elements:
    · Alternatives Analysis
    · Preliminary Engineering
    · Final Design
    · Construction

    Research is needed to assist government agencies and project sponsors in preparing realistic capital cost estimates and schedules and in containing the costs of major (exceeding $100 million) public transportation projects.

    The objective of this project is to recommend techniques and strategies to better estimate, manage, and contain the capital costs and schedules of major (exceeding $100 million) federally funded public transportation projects. The final report should contain techniques and strategies for each element of the project development process.

    Status: Completed. The final report has been published as TCRP Web-Only Document 31, and a summary of the report has been published as TCRP Research Results Digest 78.

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