RWIS Life Cycle Cost Analysis and Tool Development

Project Details









Federal Highway Administration Aurora Program Transportation Pooled Fund (TPF-5(290))

Principal Investigator
Daryl Taavola

About the research

Life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA) is a data-driven tool that provides a detailed account of the total costs of a project over its expected life. LCCA has been proven to create short-term and long-term savings for transportation agencies by helping decision-makers identify the most beneficial and cost-effective projects and alternatives. To help state departments of transportation (DOTs) make more informed decisions with regard to budget planning for the various costs associated with the use of a road weather information system (RWIS), the Aurora Pooled Fund Program initiated the RWIS Life-Cycle Cost Analysis research project. The objectives of this research were to develop guidelines to do the following:

  • Help quantify the costs and benefits associated with RWIS sites
  • Better assess costs arising from RWIS assets over the life cycle
  • Provide a framework for calculating net present worth
  • Assess alternatives and associated cost implications
  • Determine long-term RWIS life-cycle costs and the optimal point to replace RWIS equipment
  • Support decisions on repair versus replacement based on projected expenses
  • Assist in planning and funding the replacement or repair of RWIS infrastructure

This report provides methods and general guidelines to assist public agencies with determining RWIS site life-cycle costs. Public agencies can follow the information provided herein to gather necessary data and perform the analysis to help quantify the costs and benefits associated with RWISs. The methodologies presented in this report provide a framework for calculating life-cycle costs and net present worth, which helps agencies make more informed decisions in repairs and replacement of RWIS sites. It also helps assess and compare alternatives and associated cost implications.

Tool Development

This effort took the results from the RWIS Life-Cycle Cost Analysis findings and Task 6 final report to create an interactive tool. The purpose was to provide agencies a practical tool for performing life-cycle cost analysis for their RWIS. This interactive tool was developed in the form of Microsoft Excel to provide convenience and easy access to agencies. The interactive tool includes the following:

  • An instruction sheet that introduces the tool and provides instructions on using the tool.
  • A database that can store average cost information for RWIS components. Average costs of RWIS and its components were collected from one selected agency. The Aurora Program through the Institute for Transportation at Iowa State University collected the data and other agency input variables. Data already collected through the RWIS Life-Cycle Cost Analysis project was also used to supplement this database. The costs include breakdown of capital equipment, installation, maintenance, upgrade, and replacement costs.
  • A data input feature that allows users to search the database to find and select the information and parameters for performing the analysis.
  • A manual data entry feature that allows users to input tailored agency data for the analysis.
  • An annualized cost calculation worksheet(s).
  • A benefits/savings estimation worksheet(s).
  • A summary result sheet that presents basic parameters used in the analysis, calculated annualized cost, life-cycle cost, net present worth, and expected benefit-cost ratio.

The final interactive tool is available to Aurora program members.