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Arrow Iowa Demonstration Project: Accelerated Bridge Construction on US 6 over Keg Creek

Economic Analysis

A key aspect of HfL demonstration projects is quantifying, as much as possible, the value of the innovations deployed. This involves comparing the benefits and costs associated with the innovative project delivery approach adopted on an HfL project with those from a more traditional delivery approach on a project of similar size and scope. The latter type of project is referred to as a baseline case and is an important component of the economic analysis.

For this economic analysis, the Iowa DOT supplied the cost figures for the as-built project and baseline construction. Traditional methods would have involved the use of cast-in-place construction coupled with standard pre-tension precast concrete bridge beams.

Construction Time

The baseline scenario would have closed the bridge for at least 6 months to accommodate traditional cast-in-place construction methods. The ABC approach allowed the contractor to fabricate the bridge components ahead of time and then assemble the bridge during a minimal 16-day bridge closure.

Construction Costs

The project was awarded based on lowest bid. There were 7 qualified bids received of which Godbersen-Smith Construction Company was the lowest bid at $ 2,658,823.35. Table 2 lists the results of the 7 bids.

Table 2. Bid results.
Contractor Bid Percent of low bid
Godbersen-Smith Construction Co. $ 2,658,823.35 100.00
A.M. Cohron & Son, Inc $ 3,202,409.35 120.44
Cramer & Assoc., Inc. $ 3,245,342.21 122.05
Hawkins Construction Co. $ 3,495,701.97 131.47
United Contractors Inc. $ 3,614,301.52 135.93
Jensen Construction Co. $ 3,925,936.43 147.65
Kiewit Infrastructure Co. $ 3,990,723.50 150.09

Table 3 presents the 2011 construction costs of the baseline and the as-built alternatives based on the awarded as-built contract and Iowa DOT estimates. Assumptions regarding the baseline case include:

  • The use of steel piles to support the piers instead of drilled shafts.
  • Cast-in-place construction of the substructure.
  • Cast-in-place construction of the superstructure with precast-pretentions beams.
  • The traffic is maintained on the detour route for the entire 6-month construction duration.
  • Given the good condition of the detour route pavements and the relatively low amount of detoured traffic, improvements or additional maintenance on the detour roads would not be necessary.
Table 3. Capital cost calculation table.
Bid Item Description As-Built ABC Bid Costs Baseline Conventional Cost Estimate
Quantity Rate Total Quantity Rate Total
Excavation, Class 10, Channel 10,977 CY $ 4 $ 43,908 10,829 CY $ 10 $ 108,290
Removal of Existing Bridge 1 LS $ 200,000 $ 200,000 1 LS $ 70,000 $ 70,000
Excavation, Class 20, Bridge 304 CY $ 25 $ 7,600 365 CY $ 20 $ 7,300
Excavation, Class 21, Bridge - $ - $ - 293 CY $ 165 $ 48,345
Structural Concrete (Bridge) - $ - $ - 675.7 CY $ 420 $ 283,794
Reinforcing Steel 46,594 LB $ 1 $ 39,605 45,133 LB $ 1 $ 34,301
Reinforcing Steel, Epoxy Coated 3,754 LB $ 1 $ 3,454 75,092 LB $ 1 $ 56,319
Beams, Pre-tensioned, Pre-stressed, PCC, C46 - $ - $ - 7 EACH $ 6,000 $ 42,000
Beams, Pre-tensioned, Pre-stressed, PCC, C80 - $ - $ - 14 EACH $ 9,000 $ 126,000
Structural Steel - $ - $ - 5,539 LB $ 2 $ 9,416
Concrete Barrier Railing - $ - $ - 473.3 LF $ 47 $ 22,245
Piles, Steel, HP 10 X 57 1,920 LF $ 48 $ 92,160 3,730 LF $ 35 $ 130,550
Pre-bored Holes - $ - $ - 180 LF $ 39 $ 7,020
Engineering Fabric 3,295 SY $ - $ 9,885 3,295 SY $ 3 $ 9,885
Revetment, Class E 3,209 TON $ 40 $ 128,360 2,495 TON $ 33 $ 82,335
Erosion Stone - $ - $ - 476 TON $ 28 $ 13,328
Mobilization 1 LS $ - $ 250,000 1 LS $ 84,500 $ 84,500
Longitudinal Grooving 1300 SY $ 4 $ 4,550 1,300 SY $ 4 $ 4,550
Drilled Shafts 300 LF $ 550 $ 165,000 - $ - -
Demonstration Drilled Shaft 75 LF $ 550 $ 41,250 - $ - -
Construction Survey 1 LS $ 7,000 $ 7,000 1 LS $ 7,000 $ 7,000
Precast Abutment Stem 2 EACH $ 30,000 $ 60,000 - $ - -
Precast Abutment Wingwall 4 EACH $ 15,000 $ 60,000 - $ - -
Exterior Superstructure Module 1 4 EACH $ 50,000 $ 200,000 - $ - -
Exterior Superstructure Module 2 2 EACH $ 56,000 $ 112,000 - $ - -
Interior Superstructure, Module 1 8 EACH $ 56,000 $ 448,000 - $ - -
Interior Superstructure, Module 2 4 EACH $ 56,000 $ 224,000 - $ - -
Pier Cap 2 EACH $ 54,000 $ 108,000 - $ - -
Pier Column 4 EACH $ 20,000 $ 80,000 - $ - -
Grinding 1,300 SY $ 5 $ 5,850 - $ - -
Macadam Stone Slope Protection 70 SY $ 55 $ 3,850 - $ - -
Bridge Cost ($) $ 2,294,472 $ 1,147,178
Deck Area (SF) $ 9,921 $ 9,225
Unit Cost ($/SF) $ 231 $ 124
Incentive $ 22,000 $ 0
Roadway Improvements $ 305,967 $ 305,967
Traffic Control $ 3,200 $ 3,200
Reinforced Concrete Flume $ 55,185 $ 55,185
Total Project $ 2,680,823 $ 1,511,530
Abbreviations used in this table:
CY cubic yard
LB pound
LF linear foot
LS lump sum
PCC portland cement concrete
SF square foot
SY square yard
Notes:
  • The costs for the baseline substructure (abutments, wingwalls, piers, and pier caps) are accounted for in the costs of the structural concrete; epoxy coated reinforcing steel and steel piles. The cost of HPC and UHPC is included in the cost of the superstructure modules.
  • Mobilization costs for the as-built case includes costs associated with the mobilizing the equipment used for fabricating the precast elements in the nearby casting yard.
  • Traffic control includes the detour signage which is assumed to be the same for the as-built and baseline scenarios.

The comparison shows the as-built total cost was $2,680,823 compared to $1,511,530 for the baseline total cost. Considering only the bridge portion of the contract, the as-built costs were nearly double the baseline bridge costs. Contract items such as roadway improvements, traffic control, and the reinforced concrete flume were assumed to cost the same in either case.

User Costs

Generally, three categories of user costs are used in an economic/life cycle cost analysis: vehicle operating costs (VOC), delay costs, and crash- and safety-related costs. Because the bridge would have been closed to traffic under both the baseline and as-built case, the possible safety hazard to the traveling public from a work zone was eliminated, so safety-related costs were not evaluated. However, VOC and delay costs were compared and are discussed in the following subsections.

VOC

The savings in VOC from using ABC is essentially the difference between the mileage-related VOC applied to the 6 months (183 days) of detour time for the baseline case and the 16 days for the as-built case applied to the detour distance of 21 miles. In the absence of actual vehicle count data, the VOC can be estimated conservatively by considering only commercial vehicles (light and heavy trucks) traveling the designated route due to weight restrictions on other county roads in the area. Passenger vehicles are discounted because there are numerous county roads which could serve as non-planned detour routes preventing an accurate traffic estimation based solely on the AADT on US 6.

Assuming an average unit cost of $0.81 per mile7 for commercial vehicles for the variable operating costs (including costs for fuel, maintenance and repair, tires, and depreciation) based on highway travel and given the 2009 AADT of 3,890 with 9 percent commercial vehicles, the following VOC is computed:

Baseline Case
VOCcommercial = 3,890 (AADT) * 0.09 (percent commercial vehicles) * 21 (mi) * $0.81 (per mi) * 183(days) = $1,089,802
As-Built Case
VOCcommercial = 3,890 (AADT) * 0.09 (percent commercial vehicles) * 21 (mi) * $0.81 (per mi) * 16 (days) = $95,283

The total saving in VOC because of the detour differential between the baseline and as-built scenarios is as follows:

VOCDifferential = $1,089,802baseline – $95,283As-built = $994,519
Delay Costs

As with the VOC calculation, only delay costs occurred by commercial vehicles were considered since passenger vehicles could have chosen an alternate detour route. The effect of reducing the duration of the bridge closure saved $615,267. The following provides a basis for this conclusion:

  • The savings in delay cost can be determined by applying an hourly value to the time commercial vehicle operators needed to traverse the detour.
  • The monetary value of truck travel time based on work zone road user costs was $25.67 per hour in 2011.8
  • The average detour time was 24.67 minutes, or 0.41 hours per vehicle.

Using these assumptions and cost figures, the saving in delay cost is as follows:

Baseline Case
Delaycommercial = 3,890 (AADT) * 0.09 (percent commercial vehicles) * 0.41(hrs/vehicle) * $25.67 (per hour) * 183 (days) = $674,215
As-Built Case
Delaycommercial = 3,890 (AADT) * 0.09 (percent commercial vehicles) * 0.41(hrs/vehicle) * $25.67 (per hour) * 16 (days) = $58,948

The total saving in delay costs between baseline and as-built scenarios is as follows: DelayDifferential = $674,215Baseline – $58,948As-built = $615,267

Cost Summary

From a construction cost standpoint, the ABC delivery approach cost the Iowa DOT $1,169,293 more than traditional construction but saved time users would have otherwise been detoured. Considering the savings in user costs of $1,609,785 from combined VOC and delay costs ($994,519 + $615,267), the cost differential is $440,492 or 29 percent less than traditional construction for a project of this size and scope.


7Barnes and Langworthy, The Per-Mile Costs of Operating Automobiles and Trucks, 2003. Report No. MN/RC 2003-19, Minnesota Department of Transportation. Adjusted for fuel price increase and inflation in 2011.

8Mallela and Sadasivam, Work Zone Road User Costs Concepts and Applications, 2011. Report No. FHWA-HOP-12-005, Federal Highway Administration.

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Mary Huie
Highways for LIFE
202-366-3039
mary.huie@dot.gov

Updated: 12/21/2012

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