California Department of Transportation: Maintenance Life Cycle Cost Analysis

The Client

The California DOT (Caltrans) Division of Maintenance is responsible for maintaining 15,200 centerline miles of highway and 12,312 state highway bridges, as well as maintaining 350,000 acres of right of way. As the third largest US state by area, Caltrans maintenance teams also have to contend with a variety of geographic and weather-related conditions, from mountains and heavy snow in the east to deserts and intense heat in the south.

The Challenge

As transportation assets age, the cost to maintain them grows – often at an increasing rate. With the prospect of stagnant and decreasing budgets, Caltrans needs a better way to anticipate growing maintenance demand and reduce worker exposure without sacrificing system performance. The agency wants to use its maintenance funds more effectively, thereby performing the right maintenance in the right place at the right time.

The Solution

DMG worked with Caltrans to develop a life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) toolset that can lower its maintenance budget and reduce worker exposure during maintenance activities. Unlike traditional construction and maintenance decisions that simply consider initial construction costs, LCCA also takes into account an asset’s ongoing maintenance expenses and disposal costs. When an asset’s maintenance strategy utilizes LCCA effectively, overall maintenance cost and worker exposure can decrease while system performance is maintained or improved.

The project team created three tools to address the project goals. First, the Integrated Maintenance Management System (IMMS) expense data tool will help Caltrans determine total maintenance cost by asset. This tool receives maintenance expenditure, maintenance labor, and total inventory data inputs and allocates them across appropriate IMMS assets. It also allows the user to report the IMMS maintenance funding and time spent maintaining all assets each year. The tool contains two reporting tabs: one that displays a summary of all IMMS data for the past five fiscal years and one that allows the user to filter the IMMS data by fiscal year, district, county, route, and/or climate region.

Second, the overall maintenance budget tool provides a summary based on all maintenance expenditures. It combines the maintenance contract and major maintenance expenditures with the IMMS data. This tool displays maintenance expenditures and labor hours attributed to each asset type for the past five fiscal years. It also shows inventory counts and LOS scores, when available. The tool can also filter all results by district.

Lastly, the impact attenuator LCCA tool compares maintenance expenditures within different types of the same asset to support LCCA during asset installation, maintenance, and replacement decisions. Users can generate reports that show attenuator maintenance expenses and inventory counts at the district, county, and route levels. To optimize this tool for future use, Caltrans will assign a unique inventory number to each attenuator. By connecting cost and labor data to specific assets, Caltrans will then know the average cost for each attenuator type and be able to act on that information.

The Results

Caltrans’ responsibility to maintain its system is enduring, even when budgets are uncertain. This LCCA toolset allow Caltrans to make better-informed, strategic maintenance decisions. By applying LCCA across its assets, Caltrans will be better prepared to meet its goals of lower maintenance expenditures, reduced worker exposure, and optimized system performance.


Deliver projects smarter,
faster, and better. Read more

maintenance &
asset management

Preserve transportation
infrastructure. Read more

enterprise financial &
administrative management

Streamline and automate
support functions. Read more

policy &

Optimize future
transportation. Read more

2021 Dye Management Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.