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


  • Anani, Shadi B.
  • Madanat, Samer M.


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Anani, Shadi B. & Madanat, Samer M., 2010. "Highway maintenance marginal costs: What if the fourth power assumption is not valid?," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 17(6), pages 486-495, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:trapol:v:17:y:2010:i:6:p:486-495

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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, vol. 11(4), pages 345-353, October.
    2. McKinnon, Alan C., 2006. "Government plans for lorry road-user charging in the UK: a critique and an alternative," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 204-216, May.
    3. 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.
    4. Newbery, David M, 1990. "Pricing and Congestion: Economic Principles Relevant to Pricing Roads," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 22-38, Summer.
    5. Doll, Claus & Schaffer, Axel, 2007. "Economic impact of the introduction of the German HGV toll system," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 49-58, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dumortier, Jerome & Kent, Matthew W. & Payton, Seth B., 2016. "Plug-in vehicles and the future of road infrastructure funding in the United States," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 187-195.
    2. Dumortier, Jerome & Kent, Matthew & Payton, Seth, 2015. "Plug-in vehicles and the future of road infrastructure funding in the United States," IU SPEA AgEcon Papers 202177, Indiana University, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs.


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