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Project Dates
01/01/2006 - 12/31/2006
Principal Investigators
Project Status

Project publications may be ordered by contacting Dr. Ellen Thorson.

Project Objective:

Objective 1: Improve the developed cost models and cost estimation procedures.

Cost functions developed in the Phase 1 of the project need to be improved using up-to-date data. Our experience with data acquisition in Phase 1 showed that most of the data exists but not always in a usable format or sometimes is very hard to access. In Phase 1, much of the effort was spent to obtain the data. Based on this previous experience with data collection, the cost functions that need to be improved and the availability of the necessary data will be carefully identified to avoid delays. Then, a decision will be made to improve the most important cost functions. Moreover, we will improve our methodology used in determining trip costs (mainly route costs).

Objective 2: Create a User-Friendly Cost- Analysis Tool for the Calculation of Costs and Evaluation of Different Policy Decision Applications

A simplified version of this tool has already been developed as a part of Phase 1. The model should be enhanced to make it a more robust and effective tool for policy analysts to analyze and evaluate various policy decision applications. In other words, the tool should be compatible with the existing travel demand models and software used by the NJDOT and capable of retrieving and updating the data.

Project Abstract

The extensive and highly developed highway infrastructure of New Jersey carrying heavy traffic of freight and commuters plays a pivotal role in ensuring mobility in the area. Yet, with high-density growth, it becomes harder to meet the current and potential demand even with an expanded highway system. To keep in pace with the economic growth in the State, the highway transportation system must continuously evolve to face the challenge of achieving increased efficiency and connectivity. This is a challenge that has been a major objective of the federal and local governments for decades. Numerous policy options have been contemplated to achieve this goal, such as improving roadway infrastructure, taxation on fuel use, improving/expanding public transportation, congestion pricing, traffic control management, etc.

At the heart of these options lies the accurate estimation of travel costs. This information is essential for allocation of resources efficiently, for ensuring equity among users of different transportation mode users, and for developing effective pricing mechanisms. Economists and policy analysts have repeatedly argued that it is important to use the concept of social marginal cost, which incorporates user costs and external costs in measuring the cost of transporting people and goods. Social marginal costs measure the real increase in costs due an additional trip, user or vehicle-mile traveled, and they are the real costs that the State should consider in evaluating various policy decisions.