Despite the majority of transportation industry practitioners’ agreement that the full cost of a project—including long-term operation and maintenance—should be considered in decision-making, only 48 percent of practitioners said their agencies could effectively predict future costs, according to a survey released as part of a new report by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Eno Center for Transportation (Eno). State and federal funding for transportation projects is stagnant, yet Maximizing the Value of Investments Using Life Cycle Cost Analysis finds that currently most transportation funding is invested without considering long-term operating costs. To improve decision making, the report gives a series of policy recommendations on how to implement Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA), a process which ensures total costs related to an asset— including the cost to operate the infrastructure in the future—is accounted for.
“Considering the full cost of a project throughout its lifespan is essential if we want to make the best investment with the limited funding available,” said Pat Natale, Executive Director, ASCE. “There is a clear desire to use this more in the transportation industry. Now is the time for our policymakers to incentivize using LCCA to ensure we choose the right project and design options.”
“Far too often not enough analysis goes into transportation investment decisions as the emphasis is placed on upfront costs rather than long-term costs and benefits,” said Eno President and CEO Joshua Schank. “Both local and federal planners and policymakers can make a difference in the future of this country’s transportation and infrastructure network by implementing life cycle cost analysis.”
According to the report’s survey of industry decision-makers, operation and maintenance costs are pressing concerns. Yet, less than half of respondents had an “operations plan” as part of the planning process. Life cycle cost analysis considers these costs associated with a project and can help inform which projects are selected, to ensure the best use of funding.
Through case studies, the report also finds that:
- Using data-driven analysis can save agencies money by improving project selection. In Denver, the use of life cycle cost analysis saved the Regional Transit District $300 million.
- The private sector can play an important role in incorporating life cycle cost analysis in project design and selection, as it already is a leader in considering operation and maintenance costs.
- There is an opportunity for the federal government to provide more incentives to tie agency performance to funding.
The report was released at a Capitol Hill briefing today that featured a panel of industry experts, including Greg Nadeau of the Federal Highway Administration, Beth Osborne of Transportation for America, and Christopher Stone of Clark Nexsen, an engineering firm based in Virginia.
To view the full report, visit www.asce.org/Infrastructure/Life-Cycle-Cost-Analysis-Report.