Crash Attenuator Data Collection and Life Cycle Tool Development
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Crash Attenuator Data Collection and Life Cycle Tool Development

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    Final Report, July 2011 - June 14, 2014
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    This research study was aimed at data collection and development of a decision support tool for life cycle cost assessment of crash attenuators. Assessing arrenuator life cycle costs based on in-place expected costs and not just the initial cost enhances the selection and procurement process resulting in cost savings for Caltrans Maintenance. The research question addressed included: can a decision support tool be developed based on detailed data that would allow proper estimation of in-service or life cycle rather than initial cost of crash attenuators? In addressing this research question, first data needs to be collected on actual impact frequency at each crash attenuator site and actual repair costs of each type of attenuators. Data on generic repair costs of different classes of crash attenuators have been gathered based on IMMS (Integrated Maintenance Management System) data and has been used in the form of default values in a decision support system developed as part of this research. These default values can be over ridden by the user based on user input of such estimates. In order to help the user in terms of estimating the impact frequency at a site, a post processor for the IMMS data base has been developed that can search the IMMS data base for a site and obtain the repair frequency as well as actual data on total repair costs. The repair frequency is, however, a lower bound on impact frequency because the crash attenuator at a site may have had other impacts that did not require repairs. This is specially the case for sites with crash attenuators that are less likely to be damaged from impacts. In order to get a handle on the number of impacts that would not require repairs (these are referred to here as nuisance hits), an integrated impact sensor and site monitoring system was developed as part of this research to collect data on such impacts. This system was installed in three different sites and data was collected on nuisance hits. Data from IMMS data base as well as from the three sites with sensors have been incorporated into a decision support system with the acronym "CAL-COST" (Crash Attenuator Life cycle Cost) developed in this study. Input for CAL-COST requires estimates of impact frequency, repair costs and access costs for a site. As output it provides data including the cost break-even point for different classes of crash attenuators that can be matched to crash attenuators available in the market. The CAL-COST decision support tool can also be used to evaluate different crash attenuators products at a specific site and their life cycle costs.
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