Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) FAQ

What is an LCCA?

Answer: LCCA is an analytical technique that uses economic principles in order to evaluate long-term alternative investment options. The analysis enables total cost comparison of competing design alternatives with equivalent benefits. LCCA accounts for relevant costs to the sponsoring agency, owner, operator of the facility, and the roadway user that will occur throughout the life of an alternative.

Why Perform an LCCA?

Answer: It is Caltrans' policy that life-cycle cost impacts are fully taken into account when making project-level decisions for pavements.

Beginning January 1, 2007, an LCCA is required for all pavement projects that are done on the State Highway System, regardless of funding source, with the exceptions of HM-1, Minor A and Minor B, encroachment permit, maintenance pullout, and landscaping projects; Project reports approved prior to January 1, 2007, are not required to do an LCCA. See Memo (PDF) 

What Software Or Program Is Used to Perform an LCCA?

Answer: RealCost. Realcost is a program developed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and was chosen by Caltrans as the official software for evaluating the long term cost effectiveness of alternative designs for new and existing pavements.

Caltrans has developed Life-Cycle Cost Analysis Procedure Manual to provide step-by-step instructions on how to use RealCost on State Highway System projects regardless of funding source.

What Type of Projects Are Required To Have An LCCA Performed?

Answer: The memorandum to the District Directors regarding the Use of Life-Cycle Cost Analyses for Pavements specifies that:
Life-cycle cost analyses for pavements shall be performed and documented for all projects which include pavement work on the State Highway System, regardless of funding source, with the exception of the following projects:

  • Major Maintenance.
  • Minor A and Minor B.
  • Projects using Permit Engineering Evaluation Reports.
  • Maintenance pullouts.
  • Landscape paving.
  • How did the inputs for the maintenance and rehabilitation schedules obtained?

    Answer: The inputs along with some of the default values were based on the historical data, expert opinion, and research.

    Data for the tables in Appendix 4 were based on the Caltrans 12 districts' decision trees. A decision tree is the district's 10-year pavement activity scheduling plan. Each district has its own set of pavement decision trees, which have different sequences of pavement maintenance and rehabilitation activities.

    Why don't we use the actual design life of the alternative as the Analysis Period?

    Answer: A LCCA period should be sufficiently long to reflect long-term cost differences associated with competing design alternatives.

    Can we really use 3 CAPMs in a row?

    Answer: The Maintenance and Rehabilitation schedules were developed to reflect best practices taking into account both historical practices and policies. For flexible pavements, the schedules show only one CAPM before rehabilitation. However, for rigid pavements, three CAPMs are shown each being a progressive number of slab replacements (with occasional grinding). Slab replacements in the past have been funded both as rehabilitation and CAPM and have been done multiple times before a crack, seat, and overlay or lane replacement is done. With the publishing of the new CAPM guidelines (Design Information Bulletin #81), slab replacements and diamond grinding are considered to be CAPM projects only. So what use to be done as rehabilitation/CAPM several times is now done as CAPM.

    The Department is currently conducting a performance review of pavement strategies including CAPM and rehabilitation with the intent of verifying both how many times and how often these strategies should be applied to obtain the most cost effective performance. Results of this study may result in some changes to the Maintenance and Rehabilitation schedules.

    The following appear in several of the flexible M&R tables: "Select a schedule for New Construction/Reconstruction from this M&R schedule" what does it mean?

    Answer: The note should say "Select a schedule for New Construction/Reconstruction from this M&R table " It means that when reconstruction is one of the competing alternatives that you are proposing, you can go to the New Construction/Reconstruction section of the table and chose any of the alternatives to follow their schedule of future activities.

    The following appear in several of the flexible M&R tables: "Select a HMA w/OGFC schedule for New Construction/Reconstruction from this M&R schedule" what does it mean?

    Answer: The note should say "Select a HMA w/OGFC schedule for New Construction/Reconstruction from this M&R table " See question 9 for additional information.

    The following appear in several rigid M&R tables: "Select a rehabilitation option listed under the rigid and composite pavement M&R table and follow the strategy sequence" what does it means?

    Answer: That means that you can go to the rigid M&R table for the appropriate climate region under rehabilitation, select any of the replacement options and follow the prescribed sequence of activities

    What should be the # of lanes open in each direction during the work zone hours?

    a) If the facility has one lane in each direction?

    b) If the facility has two lane in each direction?

    Answer: Unless you are closing the highway entirely, you will need to provide a way for traffic to go through the work zone The number of lanes that are available for traffic is what you use. Make sure that in the Analysis Options you are specifying in which direction the work is being performed (inbound or outbound, not both) Now this assumes that the highway is a typical two way divided highway (physically divided) If is not a divided highway and flagmen will be used for traffic control, you still use one lane, but the work zone capacity will have to be reduced by at least half if not more.

    Is the AADT input in the traffic for all roadway or just the inbound or outbound?

    Answer: It 's for both directions You input in the Analysis Options regarding the direction and the information in the Traffic Hourly Distribution will make appropriate traffic distribution each direction.

    Does Work Zone Duration apply to both directions? What if you are only working on one side of the road?

    Answer: Unless your input is for both directions in the Analysis Options, it only applies to the direction you had specified.

    What if the only choices I have are for rigid pavement, what alternatives should I consider?

    Answer: The HDM doe s not prevents you from comparing flexible alternatives from rigid alternatives However if there is a compelling reason for the project not to consider flexible pavement, you can still compare different design lives and different rigid types of rigid pavement (i.e. JCPC and CRCP).

    What happen when the alternatives have different pavement limits (lane-miles)?

    Answer: As long as the benefits to the user at the end of the project are the same, the number of lane miles within the same project limits can be different However, if the number of lane-miles changes because of the benefit to the user change, the LCCA must be adjusted to compare similar benefits. For example, if one alternative is the rehabilitation of the outside lane and the other is the rehabilitation of the outside lane plus and additional lane for widening, the number of lane-miles will be different but so will the benefits In this case you must compare only the rehabilitation of the outside lane or include the additional widening lane in both.

    Should the construction windows (closure windows) be the same for the future rehabilitation activities as it is for the initial construction?

    Answer: No, the construction should be adjusted appropriately to the activity that will be performed in the future The productivity rates in tables 8 or 9 can give you an indication of the construction window required However consulting the District 's Traffic Operations or the Construction unit is always recommended.