A Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) in Denver Colorado helped reduce maintenance operations labor hours, and had a benefit / cost ratio of 1.34.

December 7, 2009
Denver,Colorado,United States

Summary Information

The Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, has established a Road Weather Management Program (RWMP) that seeks to improve the safety, mobility and productivity of the nation’s surface transportation modes by integrating meteorology into transportation operations and maintenance. A central activity of the RWMP has been to develop and encourage the deployment of tools to support decision making by transportation operations and maintenance. One of those tools is the Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) that offers road maintenance managers guidance regarding efficient tactical deployment of road crews, equipment and materials with the expectation that the MDSS can save state and local Departments of Transportation money and time while also enhancing the safety and mobility of the traveling public. This report presents the results of a Benefit-Cost Assessment (BCA) of the use of an MDSS by the City and County of Denver, Colorado. The MDSS was used over two consecutive winters (2007-2009) and resulted in budget savings that exceeded costs of the system while maintaining the level of service on the road network. Most of those savings are attributable to more effective tactical crew deployment decisions. The nature of the small sized snow events and the local and arterial road system of the City of Denver resulted in limited ability to test the effects of the MDSS treatment module. Overall, the City and County of Denver management and staff were very satisfied with the utility and performance of the MDSS in supporting their maintenance decisions.


Benefits were realized primarily by reductions in labor hours due to the tactical decision support offered by the MDSS. No benefits were realized by the MDSS in the treatment aspect. Costs include one-time set-up costs and annual contract costs for the MDSS. Benefits and costs were adjusted to constant 2009 dollars using inflation rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The budget cycle for the City and County of Denver is based on the calendar year, so benefits and costs reported are for events in particular calendar years.

Overall, the MDSS provided a net positive benefit/cost trade-off for the City and County of Denver with the average annual benefits due to the tool exceeding the costs. For every $1.00 that the City and County of Denver spent on the MDSS, it achieved $1.34 in return. The City and County of Denver gained a net benefit (Net Benefit = Total Benefit - Total Costs) of $24,304 per year from the use of the MDSS.

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Benefit-Cost Assessment of a Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) Implementation: The City and County of Denver

Author: Chris Cluett (Battelle), Deepak Gopalakrishna (Battelle)

Published By: United States Department of Transportation Research and Innovative Technology Administration Federal Highway Administration, Office of Operations 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE Washington, DC 20590

Source Date: December 7, 2009

EDL Number: 14521

Other Reference Number: FHWA-JPO-10-018



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Benefit ID: 2010-00654