A state transportation agency’s (DOT’s) ability to develop and manage transportation infrastructure depends crucially on a capability to reliably estimate project costs. Cost estimating practices can vary greatly from state to state and even within an agency for different types of projects and stages of project development. Over the last decade FHWA, AASHTO, NCHRP, and other national organizations have worked to provide support for DOTs to improve the consistency, accuracy, reliability, and ease of cost estimating.
Among the more recent products of this work is the new AASHTO Practical Guide to Cost Estimating, developed by AASHTO’s Technical Committee on Cost Estimating (TCCE) with NCHRP support. This guide built on other NCHRP and FHWA research results, such as NCHRP Report 574 Guidance for Cost Estimation and Management for Highway Projects During Planning, Programming, and Preconstruction, NCHRP Report 658: Guidebook on Risk Analysis Tools and Management Practices to Control Transportation Project Costs, and FHWA’s Major Project Program Cost Estimating Guidance (January 2007). The guidance represents a valuable resource to improve DOT cost estimating practice.
The objective of this research was to develop cost estimating training and support materials based on the AASHTO Practical Guide to Cost Estimating and encompassing cost-estimating basics; bid-based (historical), cost-based, risk-based, and conceptual (parametric) estimating practices; inflation and other market-related considerations. The research team produced a set of training modules designed to be adaptable to specific DOT situations and used in a classroom setting or as part of a self-instruction program. The modules were delivered to the AASHTO TCCE for further development and possibly integration with AASHTO's Learning Management System.