About This Site - ITS Costs Database

The Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office (ITS JPO) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) established the ITS Costs Database as a national resource for transportation professionals to go to in order to obtain cost estimates for ITS deployments. The purpose of the ITS Costs Database is to support informed decision-making by transportation leaders.

The ITS Costs Database contains estimates of ITS costs that can be used for developing project cost estimates during the planning process or preliminary design phase, and for policy studies and cost-benefit analyses. Both non-recurring (capital) and recurring (operating and maintenance) costs are provided where possible.

Two types of cost data are available: unit costs and system cost summaries. The primary difference in the two types is the level of aggregation. The costs database only offered unit costs data when it was first brought on line in September 1999; system cost summaries were added in September 2003.

Systems Costs/System Cost Summaries

System cost summaries are the costs of an ITS project or portion of an ITS project such as the cost of expanding a statewide road weather information system or the detailed costs for a signal interconnect project. Each entry describes the background of the project, the ITS technologies deployed, and presents the costs and what the costs covered. A breakout of components and costs is provided for most summaries depending on the information available. Both capital costs and annual O&M costs are presented whenever possible.

Unit Costs

Unit costs are the costs associated with an individual ITS element, such as a video camera for traffic surveillance or a dynamic message sign. A range of costs (e.g., $500 - $1,000) is presented for the capital cost and annual operations and maintenance (O&M) cost of each element as well as an estimate of the length in years of its usable life. Unit costs are available in two formats: unadjusted and adjusted. Unadjusted costs are presented as the original value along with the dollar year. The dollar years vary over time (e.g., 1995, 2001, 2005). To account for these differences, each cost value is adjusted to a common year. Indexes maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are used to adjust the unit cost values. Specific indexes representative of the ITS elements are used in the calculations.

> Subsystems

Unit costs are organized by Subsystems, based roughly on where an ITS element physically resides (e.g., video cameras deployed along the roadside, signal preemption devices installed in a transit bus, and video wall monitors located in a transportation management center). The list of Subsystems comes from the National ITS Architecture. In some cases, the subsystems were further divided to better reflect unit costs and better represent actual ITS deployments. Refer to http://www.iteris.com/itsarch/html/glossary/glossary.htm for additional information on subsystems.

>> Unit Cost Elements

The Unit Cost Element refers to the equipment that would be included within the selected subsystem. The unit cost element would be used to make the equipment package list for a subsystem within the architecture. The Unit Cost Element Description refers to the assumptions made to determine the element’s unit price. Unit Cost Elements reflect the equipment that is used in ITS project deployments.

>>> Unit Cost Components

The Unit Cost Component refers to the specific equipment name given by the cost provider as shown within a specific unit cost entry. Unit Cost Components have been collected from numerous sources including bid tabs, project estimates, actual project costs, and system cost reports. The Unit Cost Component description refers to the component description developed by the cost provider.

>>>> Sample Unit Cost Entries

To enhance the Unit Cost Database, example entries of unit cost components have been compiled from available sources and provided in table format. Excel spreadsheets of these tables are downloadable for the user to further analyze data if so desired. Cost data have been provided from numerous sources. The data are not intended to be all inclusive, nor is it intended that all unit cost components will map directly to the Unit Cost Element as currently provided in the database. The purpose is to provide additional cost data for users to develop their own ITS cost estimates.

Other System Wide Costs

Other System Wide Costs are additional costs associated with developing, designing, implementing, and operating an ITS project or system that are not specifically associated with the purchase of ITS elements. These include standard items such: as planning, design and development, systems engineering, project management, deployment, construction, startup, testing, training, outreach, contingency, etc.

Non-ITS Costs

Non-ITS Costs are also a generic subsystem category meant to capture unit cost items that are part of the overall system or project but are not ITS related. Examples may include vehicles, traditional signs, Right of Way (or land) acquisition, infrastructure improvements, standard construction items, etc.


In the continuing development of the ITS Costs Database, the ITS JPO periodically receives guidance from many ITS professionals representing various local, regional, state and federal transportation agencies; planning and research organizations; as well as private sector consulting firms. They represent a wide spectrum of ITS decision makers involved in the planning, design, management, operation, and evaluation of ITS throughout the nation. Their input has been crucial and invaluable in defining the user needs, knowledge content, and the Web site interface. We acknowledge and appreciate their guidance.

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