Estimating the cost of highway construction projects is among the more challenging tasks state transportation agencies routinely deal with. Developing accurate estimates is a particularly fraught exercise during the planning and scoping phases, when projects have not been thoroughly defined and information on specifics is in short supply. While the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) has used several methodologies to generate initial cost estimates for design, right of way, utilities, and construction (DRUC), approaches vary between the agency’s districts. This report proposes a framework for estimating DRUC-related expenses that can be adopted throughout the state. Kentucky Transportation Center (KTC) researchers developed the framework after investigating the Cabinet’s current approaches to estimation and the limitation of those methods. In addition to the challenges introduced by incomplete project scopes, often staff have insufficient access to historical information, property records, and utility inventories. In many cases they also have too little time to prepare estimates. The proposed framework draws on best practices used at other state transportation agencies as well as those documented in research publications from AASHTO and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program. To speed adoption of the proposed estimation process, researchers helped KYTC set up and implement the AASHTOWare Project PreConstruction software package. Additionally, a comprehensive user manual and video tutorial were completed to help project managers transition to the new estimation framework and AASHTOWare Project Estimation.

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© 2021 University of Kentucky, Kentucky Transportation Center

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