Date of Award

12-2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Civil Engineering

Advisor

Chowdhury, Mashrur A

Committee Member

Ogle , Jennifer H

Committee Member

Dunning , Anne

Abstract

Cost estimates are a vital component of any transportation project, but they are particularly significant at the environmental review stage. The accuracy of these estimates in publicly-accessible environmental documents is important for decision making and public trust and is necessary for transportation agencies to make the best available decision to help an area address its transportation needs. However, national trends show that early cost estimates are systematically underestimated and rarely align with the actual future construction. This thesis contains five overlying objectives. Determine how costs are presented in environmental impact statements Find if costs are updated during the different review stages of the environmental impact statement Identify projects with little differences in their estimate over the life of environmental impact statements Provide a framework for selecting which cost estimation technique to use Identify various estimating techniques used nationally for transportation projects These objectives were met by utilizing a sample of one hundred transportation projects to discover the extent and accuracy of cost estimation disclosure in draft environmental impact statements (DEIS) and final environmental impact statements (FEIS). Each of the projects' environmental impact statements (EIS) was examined to see what type of early estimation occurred and how it was disclosed. The author also conducted interviews with personnel from a small sample of the selected projects to gain further insight into the project's cost estimate and the state's cost estimation strategies. In a number of the projects reviewed for this study, the costs were underestimated and barely mentioned during the project development stage. These understated estimates can trigger serious cost overruns resulting in a lack of public trust and confidence in the transportation agencies generating the estimates. Future projects may be substantially delayed or trimmed because of the unavailability of funds from these cost overruns. Better financial stewardship is desired by the public and improved cost estimating methods appear to be needed. From analysis of these transportation projects and interviews with various people who worked on them, it was found that improvements in disclosing project costs in environmental documents are needed. These changes will ultimately help to build public trust and confidence in the cost estimates of transportation projects.

Appendix_C_FINAL.xls (535 kB)
Appendix C FINAL

Appendix_D_FINAL.xls (389 kB)

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