The National Academies

NCHRP 02-23 [Completed]

Development of an Update to the 1977 AASHTO Redbook

  Project Data
Funds: $340,000
Research Agency: ECONorthwest
Principal Investigator: Randall J. Pozdena
Effective Date: 5/17/2000
Completion Date: 8/31/2003

Background: The contents of the 1977 AASHTO publication A Manual on User Benefit Analysis of Highway and Bus-Transit Improvements (the "Redbook") were developed in NCHRP Project 2-12. This document outlines a systematic process for conducting benefit/cost analyses for transportation projects. Since its publication, many of its input factors have become outdated. Best management practices of the federal-aid programs encourage transportation agencies to conduct benefit-cost analyses in the project selection process. Given this guidance and the availability of new computer technology, the need exists to update the Redbook to provide a basic, uniform approach for economic analysis of projects by transportation agencies. This will facilitate its adoption and use by federal, state, metropolitan, and local agencies (and by those who provide technical assistance to them), and it will provide a consistent basis for assessing economic impacts.

Many states are using various innovative contracting practices to improve the quality of construction, reduce public inconvenience, and manage owner risks. Often, these innovative contracting practices include provisions for incentive/disincentive payments. Innovative contracting practices are intended to reduce construction impacts on the public and should consider the user costs that are being saved by using these practices. Therefore, there is a need to develop a standard methodology for quantifying the input factors that should be used in analyzing the effects of these practices.

There has been successful work that can provide a basis for the updating effort. NCHRP Project 7-12, "Microcomputer Evaluation of Highway User Benefits," has provided an automated means (MicroBENCOST) to evaluate user-benefits following the methodologies outlined in the Redbook. The original package developed in NCHRP Project 7-12 has been updated in NCHRP Project 7-12(2), "Metrication and Enhancement of MicroBENCOST Software Package." The default data and fundamental relationships in the model also were updated in this project. The software has been rigorously evaluated and is being distributed to interested parties. Documentation for the software that was developed in Project 7-12 addresses many of the topics in the Redbook but is not specifically designed to be a replacement for it. Thus, there continues to be a need to update the Redbook as the standard reference for project-level user benefit/cost analyses.

The objective of this project is to develop recommendations for updating the AASHTO Redbook entitled, A Manual on User Benefit Analysis of Highway and Bus-Transit Improvements 1977. The new manual will address benefit/cost analysis for highway improvement projects. The update should provide decision makers with a clear description of the approach and understanding of the results of project benefit/cost analyses. It should also provide practitioners with sufficient detail to perform these technical analyses. Specifically, it should concentrate on highway-user benefits and costs and on project-level analyses. It should incorporate current benefit and cost factors, along with methods for keeping them updated. It should provide for both detailed and simplified levels of analysis. This manual should concisely reference available tools and techniques for evaluating improvements for other modes of transportation and summarize the relationships and differences among these techniques.

Status: Completed.

Product Availability: The final report and accompanying CD-ROM will be published and distributed by AASHTO in the 2010.

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