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Tool for Operations Benefit Cost Analysis (TOPS-BC)

As part of the USDOT Planning for Operations Initiative, the FHWA Office of Operations is pleased to make available Version 3.0 of the Tool for Operations Benefit-Cost Analysis (TOPS-BC V 3.0). TOPS-BC is a companion resource to FHWA's Operations Benefit / Cost Desk Reference. If you are already a TOPS-BC user, we recommend that you download Version 3.0 as there have been improvements made.

Version 3.0 adds four new freight strategies: truck-only lanes; compliance through electronic screening, credentialing, and permitting systems; truck parking and reservations systems; and truck climbing lanes. TOPS-BC now enables the estimation of reliability benefits based on procedures from the SHRP2 C11 Economic Analysis Tools. Version 3.0 added the estimation of benefits for the active traffic management strategies: variable speed limits and part-time shoulder use. Cost information used by the tool was also updated.

TOPS-BC is a sketch-planning level decision support tool developed by the FHWA Office of Operations. It is intended to provide support and guidance to transportation practitioners in the application of benefit/cost analysis (BCA) for a wide range of Transportation System Management and Operations (TSMO) strategies. The tool was developed based on guidance and input from planning and operations practitioners with the primary purpose to help in screening multiple TSMO strategies and for providing "order of magnitude" BCA estimates.

Although the tool contains default parameters, sketch methods for estimating impacts of investments (e.g., change in travel speeds or crashes), and procedures for monetizing those impacts, users are encouraged to use local data or data derived from more robust traffic, safety, or cost models. Even in these cases, however, TOPS-BC can be used to provide a framework for organizing and cataloging the various benefit and costs elements.

FHWA is continuing to develop products and provide technical assistance to practitioners in applying benefit-costs analysis for management and operations strategies. We are have developed a compendium of real-world, sample BCA problems to illustrate a variety of BC analyses, data inputs, and outputs. We are also sponsoring work to evaluate benefits and costs of integrated corridor management, active transportation and demand management, work zone management, traffic incident management, and road weather management strategies. In addition, the USDOT ITS Joint Programs Office continues to maintain the ITS Benefits Costs, and Lessons Learned database.

The FHWA Office of Operations is also delivering workshops, webinars, and technical support for Operations BCA. We are also gathering suggestions so that additional strategies and other enhancements can be considered for the next update to TOPS-BC. In the meantime, we encourage users to experiment with the tool and add in any extensions that support their needs.

If you have questions or comments on the TOPS-BC tool, please contact Jim Hunt with FHWA at, 202-680-2679.


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