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 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 to develop project cost estimates during the planning process or preliminary design phase, for policy studies, and for cost-benefit analyses. Both non-recurring (capital) and recurring (operating and maintenance) costs are provided where possible.

Currently, there are three types of cost data available: 1) System Cost Summaries, 2) Cost Element Ranges, and 3) Sample Unit Costs. The primary difference between them is the level of aggregation of cost information and data. System Costs typically provide the highest level of aggregation, describing the cost of an ITS system from data obtained from state and local deployments; these data were first added in September 2003. The ITS Cost Element Ranges data provide low and high itemized cost estimates for basic ITS services and equipment and were the first cost data provided in September 1999. With an increasing amount of very granular ITS technology cost data being reported at the project level for more common ITS deployments, Sample Unit Costs were added to the database in 2009.

The relationship of the three types of cost data as used in the ITS Costs Database is shown below. Cost data sources are analyzed and if deemed applicable can serve as a new cost entry in one or more parts of the ITS Costs Database. A source that is entered as a Sample Unit Cost, may contain cost data that are used to update the values in the Cost Element Ranges.

Flowchart depicting that cost sources serve as input for System Cost Summaries, Cost Element Ranges, and Sample Unit 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 is unique and includes a description of the background of the project, the ITS technologies deployed, and presents the costs and what the costs covered. A breakout of components and corresponding costs is provided for most summaries depending on the information available. Both capital costs and annual O&M costs are presented whenever possible.

System Cost Summaries are presented according to the various topics of interest of transportation professionals. There are 12 topic areas that are the same ones used for the Benefits and Lessons Learned classifications.


Cost Element Ranges

Cost element ranges formerly called unit cost elements are the costs associated with an individual ITS element, such as a video camera for traffic surveillance or a dynamic message sign for roadside information. 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; hence, the name. In addition to cost data, an estimate of the length in years of its usable life is provided. Cost element ranges are available in two formats: unadjusted and adjusted. Unadjusted costs are presented as the original value along with the dollar year established. 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 cost element range values. The specific indexes representative of the ITS elements are used the calculations are included.

Cost element ranges are organized by subsystem and then cost element within the subsystem.


Cost element ranges 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 reflects an early version of the National ITS Architecture. In some cases, the subsystems were further divided to better reflect cost elements and better represent actual ITS deployments.

Cost Element

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


Sample Unit Cost Data

Sample unit costs consist of cost entries for ITS components that have been compiled from available sources, typically bid tab data from state DOTs. Sample unit costs are example costs for specific hardware, software, and/or services. A Sample unit cost entry can include multiple types of information such as Capital Cost, O&M Cost, Lifetime, Dollar Year, and other metadata about the database entry itself. Currently, these data compiled from available sources are available in table format. Excel spreadsheets of these tables are downloadable for users to further analyze if desired. The purpose for providing this type of cost data is to provide additional cost data for users to develop their own ITS project or planning cost estimates. Sample unit costs have been collected from numerous sources including bid tabulations, project estimates, actual project costs, and cost reports. The ITS component description refers to the specific equipment description developed by the cost provider.  

Sample unit costs are organized by the same subsystems in the Cost Element Ranges with two additional “subsystems”: Other System Wide, and Non-ITS. Both are described below:

Other System Wide 

Other System Wide represents activities 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. All of these activities have associated costs that need to be factored into project or planning costs estimates.


Non-ITS represents a generic subsystem category meant to capture 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. Again, all of these items have associated costs that need to be factored into project or planning costs estimates.



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 website interface. We acknowledge and appreciate their guidance.

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