By Mike Spack, PE, PTOE
Recently I received an email from a Mike on Traffic reader who owns a traffic engineering firm. He shared his company’s practices on how they price traffic study proposals. We had a good discussion around what to include in proposals and how we price traffic study proposals at Spack Consulting. I thought I would pass along a few of the best practices we incorporate in our traffic study proposals.
Creating a traffic study proposal can be time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be (check out the end of the article for an example of our traffic study proposal). Here are five things we do to efficiently create clear proposals like a pro:
- Hourly Rate vs. Lump Sum Pricing. At Spack Consulting we believe in providing a proposal with an upfront, lump sum pricing for our traffic study. Clients appreciate the simplified approach to pricing. It also makes it easier, and less time consuming for us to prepare a proposal, and allows us to get the proposal back to clients in a timely manner. Key to this is clearly defining the scope, which we do with a table and figure that clearly identifies the topics covered in the study as well as the study parameters.
- Study Periods. Our proposals include a standard count from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and we use the peak 60 minutes for the a.m. and p.m. periods along with a peak hour factor (as Bryant Ficek recently wrote about, we’re moving to collecting two days of data and averaging the peak hours.). I don’t like taking the peak 15 minutes and multiplying by four, a method documented in the Highway Capacity Manual, because our trip generation data doesn’t come that way – it’s in hours. I think it’s more consistent to use hours and peak hour factors. Similar issues arise when doing micro-simulations too.
- Forecast and Analysis Scenarios. We generally follow the guidelines in ITE’s Recommended Practice, which means analyzing the existing conditions, the year the development is expected to be fully operational with the development traffic added, and that same year without the development traffic. Our costing spreadsheet accounts for this. We will also analyze different development options that result in different trip generation/distribution – that multiplies out the future year scenarios. HOWEVER, our use of PTV’s Vistro almost makes analyzing different scenarios a marginal cost because it is so fast to run alternate development scenarios (and the graphics/analysis tables come out with a click of a button).
- Client Meetings. We typically don’t charge for daytime meetings or calls, but we charge for non-standard business hour meetings. (e.g. public hearing/testimony meetings). We consider business hour communications a cost of doing business, but we strongly push for discussions by phone and email to limit drive time to and from the client’s facility. This allows us to be a lot more efficient with our time.
- Travel and Range Restrictions. Our costing spreadsheet covers our metropolitan area. We add on a nominal mobilization fee if the project is outside of the metro to account for the increased costs of visiting the site and doing the data collection. BUT our costs have been greatly reduced now that we just send out one person with a van full of COUNTcams (vs. mobilizing a large data collection team to be on the ground).
I am attaching a copy of our traffic study proposal format to this post. Let me know what you think about our proposal format, the thoughts in this post, and/or our costing spreadsheet.
Want more information on creating traffic studies?
Check out our Traffic Impact Study Report. This 19 page document includes all of the core elements needed to create an impactful traffic impact study report including:
- Executive summary
- Study overview and table of contents
- Existing conditions, forecasted traffic and analyses
- Recommendations and conclusion sections