The National Academies

NCHRP 07-12 [Completed]

Microcomputer Evaluation of Highway User Benefits

  Project Data
Funds: $200,000
Research Agency: Texas A&M Research Foundation
Principal Investigator: Dr. William F. McFarland
Effective Date: 2/1/1989
Completion Date: 12/30/1993

Benefit-cost analysis can be used over a broad spectrum of projects and at different levels of detail to provide insights into the relative merits of projects or their features. The 1997 AASHTO Manual for Cost-Benefit Analysis prescribed basic procedures for such analysis, but these procedures typically get data intense and tedious for large-scale projects. Thus, the need for improved tools for cost benefit analysis were determined necessary for highway projects ranging from individual intersection improvements and Transportation Systems Management (TSM) projects to major road upgradings and construction of new roads. Further, comprehensive life-cycle cost evaluation techniques need to be incorporated to ensure robust analysis. The objective of this project was to develop a comprehensive, user-friendly, portable microcomputer program capable of using new and updatable support data and the best practical procedures for conducting comprehensive highway user benefit-cost analysis.

The focus of the research effort was directed to analyses at the project level and its immediate area impacts. The project efforts included (1) review of procedures used in highway user benefit-cost and related noise and air pollution emission analyses to identify data required for the determination of vehicle operating costs, accident reduction benefits, travel-time values, and other appropriate factors, (2) limited updating of basic data, (3) development of microcomputer software to facilitate the analysis procedures, and (4) preparation of a users' manual and software documentation. The MicroBENCOST software, which resulted from this project, is capable of performing life-cycle cost analysis for a variety of project types and scopes, using both default values and user-provided data inputs.

Status: The MicroBENCOST software has been evaluated and is being distributed by the McTrans Software Support Center at the University of Florida. The software will be enhanced under NCHRP Project 7-12(2).

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