Review of Road User Costs and Methods

The South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) uses road user costs (RUC) to calculate incentive or disincentive compensation for contractors, quantify project-specific liquidated damages, select the ideal sequencing of a project, and forecast the long-term effects new construction will have on the traveling public. The current RUC calculations were initially set in 1996 by research project SD1995-07 Criteria and Guidelines for Innovative Contracting; they have undergone little updating aside from unit cost values. Since the last research project, the two offices (Project Development and Operations Support) that depend on RUC have updated these values to keep up with inflation, but have done so independently. Currently, they use different worksheets with similar fields, but the values used to calculate RUC are substantially different. Maintaining the most up-to-date RUC is extremely important to SDDOT, as underestimation of RUC results in increased costs to the traveling public, while overestimation results in the SDDOT overpaying on incentives for early completion of construction projects. Obtaining proper RUC also helps to justify the deployment of new technologies that can accelerate the construction process for pavement and bridges and strengthen the economic competitiveness of SD in the region. Calculated RUC in South Dakota are currently much lower than those of surrounding states, in part due to infrequent updates. As a result, South Dakota construction projects may be given a lower priority compared with projects managed by the same contractor in surrounding states that have greater incentive/disincentive values. The subsequent impacts to South Dakota road users include extended construction periods, prolonged traveler delays, compromised safety, and inconvenience. The study covered in this report was undertaken to address the following two main objectives: Develop a methodology to calculate RUC specific to South Dakota; and Develop an RUC worksheet and instructions for updating it. In this study, the current RUC methodology and associated unit costs were evaluated and changes were implemented to the methodology to allow for a more complete analysis that aligns with the needs of each department and their use of RUC. The methodology was used to construct a worksheet that allows users to calculate the RUC for both stages of project construction for which it is currently being calculated.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Funding for the work presented in this report was provided by the South Dakota Department of Transportation and the Mountain-Plains Consortium University Transportation Center.
  • Corporate Authors:

    South Dakota State University, Brookings

    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Brookings, SD  United States  57007

    Mountain-Plains Consortium

    North Dakota State University
    Fargo, ND  United States  58108

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Qin, Xiao
    • Cutler, Chase E
  • Publication Date: 2013-7


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 134p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01489513
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Created Date: Aug 9 2013 9:40AM