Estimating highway construction projects

Notice 11/30/2018
Pay plan quantities are no longer permitted to be used. Please make sure projects do not have any pay plan quantity items.

WisDOT’s ability to successfully manage and deliver its program is largely dependent on an ability to develop realistic estimates of project cost for both construction and services to deliver and oversee the project. Cost estimating involves not only the collection of relevant factors relating to the scope of a project and the cost of resources, but it also requires anticipating cost impacts that may occur due to changes in project scope, available resources, and national and global market conditions.

Estimates are central to establishing the basis for key project decisions, for establishing the metrics against which project success will be measured and for communicating the status of a project at any given point in time. Logical and reasonable cost estimates are necessary in maintaining public confidence and trust throughout the life of a project.

Accurate estimates serve as a benchmark for analyzing bids, are an essential element in awarding proposals, and are the base for funding our statewide design and construction programs.

An estimate is one component of the PS&E package and it is expected to be accurate and created using sound engineering judgment.

The goal of this website is to provide estimating tools and support for designers producing project estimates. Please send us an email if you have suggestions for additional guidance

The Engineer's Estimate is always confidential, and the contractor's bid tab information is confidential until after the proposal is awarded. See our policy in the confidentiality memo.

Estimating guidelines and tools are also available in the Facilities Development Manual Section 19-5.

The Bureau of Project Development reviews each proposal after the letting to ensure that the proposal meets the requirements of the unbalanced bid analysis. See Section 2-10.2.1 (Unbalanced Bid Analysis) in the CMM for further details.

Estimating User Group

The objective of estimating user group is to review, develop and recommend WisDOT procedures and best practices on cost estimating for transportation projects. This assignment includes formulating new and revised criteria keeping cost estimating standards, policies, and guidelines current. Goals of the Estimating User Group include:

  • Standardize cost estimating methods, resources, and guidelines for statewide use.
  • Develop cost estimating guidance and procedures for cost estimating from Concept to Letting.
  • Stay current with cost estimating tools and practices.

Estimating user group members (October 2019)​

For questions regarding the content of this page, contact:

Bureau of Project Development
4822 Madison Yards Way
4th Floor South, Room S437
Madison, WI 53705
Phone: (608) 266-1631
Fax: (608) 267-1862