Estimating User Costs as a Basis for Incentive/Disincentive Amounts in Highway Construction Contracts

Report No: 98-R12

Published in 1998

About the report:

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) occasionally includes an incentive/ disincentive for early completion (I/D) in its construction contracts. This report presents the results of a project to identify procedures that would (1) enhance the effectiveness and enforceability of the I/D provision and (2) reduce the staff time and effort necessary to determine the need for an I/D and to calculate an appropriate per-day dollar amount. The researcher first reviewed the relevant literature pertaining to construction contracts and to road user cost calculation, and then evaluated the available user cost methodologies, especially computer software. Next, the researcher surveyed the current use of I/D provisions in Virginia and other states, and described VDOT's current project development process, with special emphasis on the user cost data that are typically generated during that process. The report makes five conclusions. First, various forms of I/D, though known by a variety of names, are fundamentally similar. Second, use of an incentive rather than a disincentive alone enhances the enforceability of the disincentive clause, though it may increase the final cost of the contract. Third, cost-plus-time bidding enhances the effectiveness of the incentive clause and the enforceability of the disincentive clause. Fourth, the end of the design public hearing is a logical point for VDOT to judge the need for an I/D. Fifth, road user cost savings calculated from the output of the Highway Capacity Software already in common use in VDOT forms a legally sound justification for a per-day dollar I/D amount.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.

Last updated: December 15, 2023

Alert Icon

Please note that this file is not ADA compliant. Choose one of below options: