SARPET Details and Instructions

A dynamic tool that allows municipalities to estimate the costs of projects funded through MassDOT’s state aid reimbursable programs.

Table of Contents


A critical component of any transportation project is an accurate estimate of implementation cost. Cost estimates inform feasibility, guide funding decisions, and help to avoid surprises during implementation. MassDOT recognizes that assembling accurate cost estimates for municipal projects can be challenging and even sometimes expensive. MassDOT developed the State Aid Reimbursable Programs Estimating Tool (SARPET) to support municipalities in their efforts to develop cost estimates for projects seeking funding through various MassDOT funding programs.

SARPET is a Microsoft Excel document that allows municipalities to input project details for up to four roadways (or unique roadway segments) and/or four intersections at a time. The user is guided through several spreadsheet tabs to input the appropriate information for a particular project. Based on the information provided by the user, the tool provides a detailed Project Summary and a Project Estimate. The Project Summary breaks down the construction cost by category and includes high-level estimates for items such as survey, design, and temporary traffic control, to allow for project planning that encompasses the entire project cost. The Project Estimate breaks down cost by item number can be copied and pasted directly into MassDOT's Preliminary Estimate Form.

SARPET is ideal for municipalities seeking to develop a cost estimate for a project supported by the:

While use of SARPET is being provided to municipalities for applications submitted to MassDOT’s funding programs, the tool is not required.

To the extent possible, cost estimates are calculated using MassDOT's weighted bid prices. When available, SARPET uses the Mean Unit Price of an item for the appropriate MassDOT District. If no District price is available, the Statewide Mean Unit Price is used. This document is updated biannually to refresh data to reflect the latest bid prices. It is important to visit the SARPET website periodically to download the latest version of the tool and to update unit prices based on local pricing and/or project context if more accurate information is available.


Please note that detailed instructions are also provided in the first tab of the SARPET document. A basic understanding of Microsoft Excel is necessary for the use of the tool. Steps for using the tool are listed below.

  1. Ensure that you've downloaded the latest version of the tool from this website.
  2. Input your project scope information into the Basic Project Data tab. This tab will identify which of the other input tabs need to be filled in based on your project scope.
  3. Fill in Roadway, Multimodal, Traffic Control and Pavement tabs as directed by the Basic Project Data tab.
  4. Review which items are included in the construction cost estimate by navigating to the ProjectEstimate tab. If any items appear to be missing, enter them in the MiscItems tab.
  5. This step is optional. Double check the calculations and assumptions in the grey tabs and make edits as appropriate. Unit prices can be overridden in the highlighted cells to the right of the calculations. To prevent accidental errors, certain cells have been locked. Use password "MODIFY" if you wish to unlock these cells for any reason.
  6. Review the cost estimate in the ProjectSummary and ProjectEstimate tabs. The ProjectSummary tab provides the overall project cost broken down by category and includes costs beyond construction items, such as contingencies. The ProjectEstimate tab shows construction costs using MassDOT Standard Items, user-inputted items, and pavement items. This sheet can be used to fill the MassDOT Preliminary Estimate Form.

Additional Resources

Costs not Included in Tool

  • Costs associated with environmental mitigation, landscaping, permitting and right-of-way are not included in this tool.
  • Costs associated with stormwater quality measures or sedimentation and erosion control measures are not included in this tool.
  • Projects that include bridges or structural retaining walls over four feet are not good candidates for SARPET. A structural engineer should be consulted to estimate these costs.
  • Items that are unique to certain situations and locations may not be estimated by this tool. The tool attempts to quantify the most common items needed for local projects, but the user should verify whether all project elements have been included and input any items that are missing in the MiscItems tab. Examples include sediment control barriers and clearing & grubbing. Local experience with estimating project cost should always be considered.
  • The tool can only calculate estimates for up to four roadway segments and four signalized intersections at a time.
  • Survey costs are calculated using an average base price developed through analysis of past design projects. This can be very sensitive to location and project scope, so it is recommended to get a survey quote from a qualified firm.
  • Cost estimates are based on MassDOT's weighted bid prices. When available, the tool uses the Mean Unit Price of an item for the appropriate MassDOT District. If no District price is available, the Statewide Mean Unit Price is used. This document is updated biannually to refresh data to reflect the latest bid prices. It is important to visit the SARPET website periodically to download the latest version of the tool.

Important Notes for Using Tool

  • Assumptions related to calculations of unit quantities can be seen in the grey tabs and can be edited as needed. Use password "MODIFY" to edit the data in the grey tabs. The password is case sensitive. Values that can be updated by the user are shaded in green.
  • Any changes made by the user to the formatting or formulas of this tool may adversely impact its functionality and result in inaccurate calculations. MassDOT recommends downloading a clean version of the tool from the SARPET website for each project.
  • Informational messages are provided when clicking on various cells in the input tabs. If the info box is distracting or blocks too much information, it can be dragged off the screen where it will remain until the next time Excel is opened.
  • Items provided as output in the ProjectSummary and ProjectEstimate tabs are not necessarily eligible through all MassDOT funding programs. Always confirm eligibility of specific items with the Program Guidance of the relevant funding program or the appropriate MassDOT staff.
  • The ProjectSummary tab includes contingencies that are not included in the ProjectEstimate tab, which is strictly construction items.
  • MassDOT has provided this tool to municipalities in an effort to assist in the development of cost estimates for local projects. MassDOT is not responsible for any cost differences between estimates provided by this tool and actual costs realized through the bidding or construction process. The user of this tool is responsible for ensuring that the inputs and outputs are accurate and reflective of the proposed project. Use of this tool is at the risk of the user.