Often, I am asked: ‘how much does traffic management cost?’ Well – It depends. What do you need and how long do you need it for? So many factors influence the temporary traffic management cost, it is difficult to say exactly what the final dollar value will be unless you can accurately quantify durations and scope.
Over many years I have been involved in hundreds of projects that range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of millions of dollars, all requiring TTM, and I suspect that most of them, when tallying the final TTM cost, would have all been surprised that the final total was higher than what they had budgeted for. There are so many little things that get missed out when pricing work that it is understandable how costs can blow out so easily.
One of the biggest things I notice, is people see it as an item they have been told they need to have, not as an investment that keeps them and others around them safe.
So, what should you allow for when pricing up your traffic management costs to a project?
First, you need to know what you are doing and give yourself plenty of time in advance of your start date – at least 4 weeks. Planning is critical to any successful project no matter what. You need to know what needs to be done, how you are going to do it and what it is going to take to get it done quickly and efficiently. Have it spelled out, from the first saw cuts right through to how much material you can excavate in a day, and always be realistic when setting timeframes. Hopeful quantities are an expensive gamble, if you can get more done in a day then great, but when you overestimate achievable quantities, you start playing catch up, quality slips, stress and frustrations rise and it becomes ever increasingly difficult to get back on track, resulting in overruns.
Secondly, you need to get someone who knows what they are talking about, someone who knows TTM and has a good understanding of what you are doing. No point getting someone who knows what you need for a marathon, when you need to install a cesspit or pour a concrete footpath. Get someone who knows what the difference is between a manhole in the road and a man on the road.
Thirdly, sit down with your TTM expert and walk them through your task. This is crucial, the TTM person needs to fully understand what you are doing and how you intend to do it. Explain it to them well. If you talking to the right person, they may challenge you on your approach. Be prepared to listen to what they have to say. They may not always be right, however if they know a bit about what you are doing from previous experience, then they will probably have a good insight if things went a bit pear shaped on previous jobs similar to yours. There have been instances where I have been involved in projects and the contractor has thought they know how the TTM should be laid out, only to find out later, the suggestions I put forward may have been a quicker and easier path to the same desired outcome.
Think outside the box and be open to other possibilities. It may cost a little more to do it another way or via a different method, but it may save you in the long term with time and the type of TTM you need. Would changing the line marking on the road be a good idea? You may go from a full time Stop Go that can only be in place from 10am to 3pm, to a Shoulder Closure that you can work behind all day. Your productivity rate per day could almost double and maybe more. Or would changing the type of machinery on site increase productivity? It may require more advanced TTM, but for a shorter period. Or how about working at night? All of these and many other options may be a better solution to help keep the costs within your allowance.
Once you have been through these initial steps, you can start putting the Temporary traffic management cost together.
You are going to need a TMP designed. Speak to your TTM expert and get an estimate based on what you have discussed. Remember, if you are going to be there more than one day, you are going to need at least two TMP’s. One for your activity and one for your inactivity or aftercare. What TTM is going to be in place at night or over the weekend? In a lot of cases, you may need several TMP’s to cover all of your works and you may need several aftercare TMP’s as well. All of these you will need to allow for in your pricing.
Next, you need to know what types of TTM your TMP’s will have in their designs. Is there a Stop Go? How many Manual Traffic Controllers and/or other TTM staff are needed to safely control the site? What Level of road are you working on and what are the working hours? What is the travel time to and from the site for the TTM company? Will you require line marking changes? All these factors influence the cost. But it doesn’t stop there. If your activity has the potential to cause significant harm and or death if a person drove off the road into you site, do you need barriers? There are several types of barriers than can be used, but it will all depend on the site, surroundings, work operations and a myriad of other factors – the purpose of a barrier is to keep road users and a site safe. Ensure your TTM expert is a qualified Temporary Road Side Barrier designer or has the capability to engage one.
So, are we done yet? Almost, your TMP will need to be approved by the RCA (Road Controlling Authority) and you will need a Corridor Access Request and a Works Access Permit, and yes it will come at a cost. Normally it is not too expensive, but it all depends what you are doing, where you are doing it and for how long.
Most TTM experts will be able to guide you to obtaining all the required information you will need to accurately put together the on road temporary traffic management cost – some will even do it for you. In most instances you will be calculating costs based on an hourly or daily TTM rate. This is where being realistic in your sit calculations is paramount. If you hope you can do the job in five days, but realistically know it will take you seven, then allow for the seven days. Once you have all your costs together – allow for contingency. Weather can play a big part, if you get rained off for two days and your TTM is still out on site, you are going to be charged for it. Always allow for unforeseen circumstances and additional cost.
Finally, you will have a temporary traffic management cost that is reasonably accurate, providing you have planned your project well. As with most project costs – the overall temporary traffic management cost may vary slightly, so don’t expect your estimate to be 100% correct – that’s why you added that contingency! With so many variables to consider, making sure you capture everything accurately, is difficult at best.
So how much is traffic management worth? Or should the question be how much do you think it’s worth?