The National Academies

NCHRP 20-123(08) [Active]

Scoping Study to Update User and Non-User Benefit Analysis for Highways
[ NCHRP 20-123 (Support for AASHTO Committees and Councils) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $200,000
Staff Responsibility: David M. Jared
Research Agency: Kittelson and Associates
Principal Investigator: Hermanus Steyn
Effective Date: 3/13/2024
Completion Date: 3/13/2026


The most recent version of User and Non-User Benefit Analysis for Highways was published in 2010 by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). Known and referred to hereafter as the Red Book, this publication helps state departments of transportation (DOTs), regional/local planning agencies, and other transportation professionals evaluate the economic benefits of highway investments.  

Since the publication of the Red Book in 2010, the transportation industry has evolved significantly, and there is a need to update, expand, or even replace the Red Book. For example, transportation agencies take a much broader approach to understanding the economic benefits of not only highway investments but all transportation investments. Also, understanding both user and non-user benefits has become much more complex. Transportation agencies are having to address new performance measures associated with equity, accessibility, and multi-modal performance. All these changes support investigating the need for developing a resource that is responsive to current practitioner needs for estimating the economic benefits of transportation investments.


The objective of this project is to develop a set of recommendations on the need and feasibility of updating, expanding, or replacing current user and non-user benefit analyses for highways.



Task 1. Conduct a literature review. Review the current Red Book and resources published since its release, both within and outside AASHTO and, where pertinent, internationally. The review should focus on identifying innovations since the publication of the Red Book. 

Task 2. Develop a draft stakeholder outreach plan. The goal of the outreach plan is to obtain input from potential users of the guide on (a) familiarity with the Red Book and experience with it; (b) the tools and resources that are currently available; and (c) any gaps and limitations of the current resources. Outreach could include interviews and/or surveys. Stakeholders may include regional/local planning agencies and consultants in addition to state DOTs. Submit a technical memorandum summarizing the results of Tasks 1 and 2, including the draft outreach plan. NCHRP approval of the tech memo is required before work on subsequent tasks may begin. 

Task 3. Conduct stakeholder outreach. The outreach should include a balanced representation of stakeholders from state DOTs and other transportation agencies, consultants, and research institutions. The outreach should include modal diversity and geographic diversity (e.g., urbanized, small urban, and rural areas).  

Task 4. Submit an interim report. The interim report shall summarize the findings of Tasks 1 to 3, including the identification of (a) gaps and limitations, if any, between the Red Book and the needs of transportation professionals; and (b) opportunities for updating, expanding, or replacing the Red Book. NCHRP approval of the interim report is required before work on subsequent tasks may begin. 


Task 5. Develop initial recommendations on updates, additions, or alternatives to the Red Book. Prioritize opportunities for the changes identified in Task 4. Initial recommendations should consider an assessment of available public and private data sources that could support any proposed changes. NCHRP approval of the initial recommendations is required before work on subsequent tasks may begin.  

Task 6. Develop final recommendations and an implementation roadmap. The implementation roadmap should identify the major activities for the changes needed in the Red Book, the associated research, the research timeline, and the level of effort.  

Task 7. Submit final deliverables. Deliverables shall include (1) a conduct of research report summarizing the research effort; (2) an implementation plan (see Special Note I); and (3) a PowerPoint presentation summarizing the research. If updating, expanding, or replacing the Red Book is recommended, the implementation plan should include, as appropriate, preparation of an NCHRP problem statement on the suggested changes to the Red Book and supporting resources such as analytical tools, presentation materials, and a resource library as suggested by the implementation roadmap.  

Note: Following receipt of the preliminary draft final deliverables, the remaining 3 months shall be for NCHRP review and comment and for research agency preparation of the revised final deliverables. 


STATUS: Research is in progress. 

To create a link to this page, use this URL: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=5413