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Project Cost Estimation for Planning
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Project Cost Estimation for Planning
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  • Abstract:
    For Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT), there are far too many projects that ultimately cost much more than initially planned. Because project nominations are linked to estimates of future funding and the analysis of system needs, the inaccurate cost estimate lead to overloading the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) with many projects that are underfunded. This often leads to misallocating resources and creating false expectations with the public and other stakeholders. The focus of this study is on improving early project cost estimation to reduce the variance between estimates when projects are initially programmed and the final construction costs. The major objective was to provide recommendations to NDOT to enhance the project cost estimation process for transportation planning documents. An extensive literature review of other agencies' cost estimating practices revealed that the most significant policy decision to improve the planning cost estimation is to make the estimation process a high "priority" for the agencies involved. Investing time and resources in training, tracking cost and schedule changes, updating unit prices, quality control checklists, and developing uniform manuals and practices for cost estimating are all critical to improving early project cost estimates. Based on the review of available documents and interviews with agencies involved in early cost estimation, Sierra Transportation Engineers, Inc. (STE) concluded that many good practices are already in place at various groups and divisions of NDOT and partnering agencies. However, more communication, coordination, and enhancement of the procedures in place are needed.
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