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Highway maintenance marginal costs: What if the fourth power assumption is not valid?


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  • Anani, Shadi B.
  • Madanat, Samer M.
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    Highway maintenance marginal costs have been estimated in the literature using the perpetual overlay indirect approach. This approach uses the equivalent single axle load (ESAL) as the unit for traffic loading, which implies that pavement deterioration caused by an axle is proportional to the fourth power of the axle weight. This paper answers the following question: how inaccurate are maintenance marginal cost estimates when a highway agency uses ESAL? We find that the inappropriate use of ESAL does not affect the sum of maintenance marginal cost prices paid by all vehicles (at current equilibrium); however, it impacts distribution among vehicles, which reduces equity and efficiency.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Transport Policy.

    Volume (Year): 17 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 6 (November)
    Pages: 486-495

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:trapol:v:17:y:2010:i:6:p:486-495

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    Keywords: Marginal cost Highway maintenance Traffic loading units;


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    1. Prozzi, J A & Madanat, S M, 2004. "Development of Pavement Performance Models by Combining Experimental and Field Data," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt6cf8v5cw, University of California Transportation Center.
    2. Doll, Claus & Schaffer, Axel, 2007. "Economic impact of the introduction of the German HGV toll system," Transport Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 49-58, January.
    3. Johnsson, Richard, 2004. "The cost of relying on the wrong power--road wear and the importance of the fourth power rule (TP446)," Transport Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 345-353, October.
    4. Newbery, David M, 1990. "Pricing and Congestion: Economic Principles Relevant to Pricing Roads," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 22-38, Summer.
    5. McKinnon, Alan C., 2006. "Government plans for lorry road-user charging in the UK: a critique and an alternative," Transport Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 204-216, May.
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