WisDOT Major Highway Cost Estimating Workgroup Support

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Final Report

Primary Investigator

Awad Hanna
University of Wisconsin-Madison
2314 Engineering Drive
1415 Engineering Hall
Madison, WI 53706


Highway projects in the Major Highway Program of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) are generally the most complex and costly projects undertaken by the Department.  Under the Majors Program, projects are recommended to the Transportation Projects Commission (TPC) by WisDOT.  The TPC reviews the proposals and recommends specific projects for enumeration by the Legislature and the Governor.

Before projects are considered for enumeration by the TPC, WisDOT conducts environmental and engineering studies and develops project cost estimates that are used by the TPC in making their recommendations.

Legislative reviews of the Majors Program have identified concerns over significant increases in the costs of Majors Projects after enumeration.  Recommendations were made that WisDOT provide better management of the scope of the projects and they develop improved procedures for estimating the cost of projects prior to recommending them for enumeration.

In response to that, WisDOT has formed the Major Highway Cost Estimating Workgroup (MHCEW) to redesign the process for estimating costs prior to recommending projects to the TPC.  The overall process will be developed by the MHCEW, but they require technical assistance and support in developing new cost estimating tools and documenting the new procedures.


The scope of this project is to provide support to the Major Highway Cost Estimating Workgroup (MHCEW) in their effort to improve the cost estimating procedures for the projects under consideration for enumeration in the Majors Program.

It will involve reviewing existing scoping checklist documents and developing new templates to assist design engineers in identifying significant cost items; creating an interactive flow chart of the redesigned process based upon MHCEW input to provide “how to information” for project teams; develop recommendations for “allowance items” and the percent of roadway costs they represent; provide recommendations for “contingency items” and the amounts that should be utilized; develop guidance on determining unit prices for developing estimates based upon WisDOT historical bid information; and development documentation on the process as needed.


  1. Create interactive flow charts.
  2. Develop a checklist template.
  3. Review and make recommendations on items that could be estimated by an “allowance.”
  4. Review and make recommendations on items that could be estimated as contingency items.
  5. Create guidance and training materials.

Project Information

  • Duration: 18 months
  • Dates: June 2008 – January 2010
  • Budget: $31,385
  • Student Involvement: One graduate student
  • Modal Orientation: Highway
  • Project ID: CFIRE 03-20
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