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Economic Analysis

Introduction to BCA.NET

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BCA.Net is the Federal Highway Administration–s (FHWA) web-based benefit-cost analysis tool to support the highway project decision-making process. The BCA.Net system enables users to: manage the data for an analysis; select from a wide array of sample data values; develop cases corresponding to alternative strategies for improving and managing highway facilities; evaluate and compare the benefits and costs of the alternative strategies; and, provide summary metrics to inform investment decisions.

For a project evaluation, BCA.Net takes as inputs the capital costs, physical and performance characteristics, and forecast travel demand of the highway project in question. The user specifies strategies for improvements and maintenance and builds a Base Case and an Alternate Case for evaluation. BCA.Net calculates the traffic impacts and the present values of agency and user costs and benefits for each case and compares them to arrive at measures including the net present value, benefit-cost ratio, and internal rate of return for the Alternate Case relative to the Base Case.

The computational approach in BCA.Net allows the user to develop unitary, point estimates (e.g., single values) for project net benefits and other metrics. Alternatively, the user can use the risk analysis features of BCA.Net to develop probabilistic inputs and results. The probabilistic method is a way of explicitly handling the uncertainty associated with some of the analysis inputs (e.g., forecast growth or capital cost) and its impact on the analysis results.

The use of BCA.Net is free. It may be accessed over the Internet with any Internet browser. No software needs to be installed on the user's computer, so there are no problems with administrative rights, equipment requirements, or security issues. Users are also assured that they are using the latest version of BCA.Net. User data are stored by default on the BCA.Net server; however, users may choose to archive their data on their local computer at the end of one session and restore the data to the system in a subsequent session.

FHWA offers a workshop on Highway Investment Analysis at notcost to government agencies as well as private organizations evaluating roadway investments. The workshop is tailored to meet the needs of the agency and includes an overview of the BCA.net software. A sample agenda and description of the workshop can be found at the following web page: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/asset/economic/decision.cfm. Please contact the person listed on the right to request the workshop.

Please access the latest version of the software by typing the following internet web address into your internet browser: HWBCA.net. First time users will need to register. Be sure to record and save your user ID and password for follow-up sessions.

New users are strongly encouraged to begin by clicking on the "Help" section of the model's Navigation Bar and then selecting "Walkthrough Exercise 1." Download and print this training exercise and use it to guide you through the features of the model as you do a sample project evaluation. Completion of the exercise may take 2 to 3 hours, but will assure that you become fully familiar with many of the features of BCA.Net. The second and third walkthrough exercises in the "Help" section will introduce you to other features of the model. Additional training exercises, as well as improved tools for analyzing intersections, will be provided over the course of 2007.

Examples of State BCA.net Analysis

Updated: 06/23/2014