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Estimator 2.9a Procedures for Consultants

The New York State Thruway Authority publishes on its public website an Estimator catalog for projects called   The catalog is updated by the Thruway Authority, as needed.  The catalog contains various support data such as work items and project codes that are approved for use on current projects.

Due to the great fluctuation in market prices over the past few years and the relatively small number of occurrences for most items (other than the typical Lump Sum or Each items), it has been decided not to include historical bid price statistics in future catalogs.

  1. Activate Estimator program and log in.
  2. Select the ‘Current Catalog’ command from the View menu to verify that the catalog is being used.
  3. Select the ‘New' command from the File menu.  Once the New Estimate dialog box opens, choose to open either a Blank Estimate or a Template (see Appendix A - Templates).
  4. Enter the ESTIMATE ID.  The ID for estimates submitted as part of the “Plans, Specification and Estimate" (PS&E) submission shall be the first six characters of the Thruway Authority Project Identification Number (PIN), without any periods (e.g. A72001).
  5. Enter the ESTIMATE DESCRIPTION. - The estimate description field shall begin with the TA number followed by the Short Description from the Thruway Authority's Capital Program Management System. The entire description should be limited to 60 characters (e.g. TAS 07-65, I-90 (Exit 20): Toll Plaza Pavement Rehab).
  6. The SPEC YEAR should have been set automatically when the estimate was created. It is dependant upon which catalog was active during the creation process. The should set the spec.year to 08. The 08 spec. year item catalog includes approved 2008 NYSDOT standard specification book items and NYSDOT special specification English items also approved for use at NYSTA, as well as approved NYSTA special specification English items.
  7. The UNIT SYSTEM should have been set automatically when the estimate was created.  It is dependant upon the catalog that was active when the estimate was created. The should set the Unit System to English.
  8. Enter the BASE DATE.  For Thruway Authority projects the “Base Date" shall mean the “Letting Date".
  9. The LONGITUDE OF MIDPOINT and LATITUDE OF MIDPOINT shall be based upon predefined points for the primary county in which the project is located or predefined points for the Division or State if the project covers much larger areas (see Appendix B - Latitude & Longitude Values for Capital Projects).
  10. The DISTRICT shall be based upon the Thruway division in which the project is located:
    • 21 – New York
    • 22 - Albany
    • 23 - Syracuse
    • 24 - Buffalo
  11. Enter the FEDERAL/STATE PROJECT NUMBER.  This shall be the same TA number that was used in the Estimate Description.
  12. Select the appropriate WORK TYPE from the drop down list.
  13. Select the appropriate HIGHWAY TYPE from the drop down list.  The code appropriate for the majority of the project should be selected. 
  14. Select the appropriate URBAN/RURAL TYPE from the drop down list.  The code appropriate for the majority of the project should be selected. 
  15. Select the appropriate SEASON from the drop down list.The code selected should reflect when construction on the contract will begin in full (i.e. more than just prep work such as clearing and grubbing).
  16. Select the appropriate COUNTY from the drop down list.  The County selected should be the county in which the majority of the work will be performed.  Also included are codes for each Thruway Authority Division, which should be used if the project covers an entire Division (e.g. Albany Division Bridge Where and When contract).
  17. The CONTINGENCY % field can be used to automatically account for mobilization early in the project.  Simply enter 4% in that field and the project total will be increased four percent.  However, in the estimate submitted to the Thruway Authority as part of the “Plans, Specification and Estimate" (PS&E) submission the Contingency % field should be set to zero and a Mobilization item, with set dollar amounts, added to the appropriate groups.
  18. Select the ‘Save' command from the File menu.  The first time the project is saved, the program will use the ESTIMATE ID as the default file name. (The program does save backups by default every 15 minutes. It also saves up to 4 previous versions of the estimate.)
  19. Add a GROUP. At the Thruway Authority, Estimator Groups are equivalent to Fiscal or Engineering Shares. Contact the Thruway Project Manager to obtain information regarding how many groups to create and their descriptions. It is important not to leave the description field blank for any Group. Estimator automatically creates the first group. Use the ‘Add Group' command on the Edit menu to add additional groups, as needed. Estimator displays a subtotal cost for each Group on the Group Header screens, as well as a total for the entire project on the Project Header screen. If a project will have multiple groups with many common items, it is quicker to create one group and use the ‘Copy' and 'Paste" commands on that group to create the other groups.  The copies will have all the items, quantities and prices from the original group (however with unique line numbers). Users can then remove or add items as appropriate, as well as edit quantities.
  20. Add an item to a group. Either use the ‘Add item' command from the Edit menu or click a blank Item Number box in the Grid view to enter an item. Please note that the format of the item numbers has changed. The two digit special indicator does not get entered at the beginning of the item number, but now goes at the end, with unused spaces replaced with blanks.

    When entering data in the Item Number box on the Add Item screen, the program will display the closest valid item number in the Estimator catalog.  Entering more characters will eventually cause the correct item to display.  If the item does not appear then either there was something wrong with the entry or the item is not in the current catalog.  For example, entering a 502 causes the program to fill the rest of the field with the closest valid spec number, 502.0001.  Entering an additional character 502.1 results in the display changing to 502.1001  18.  Estimator is also configured to allow users to enter items not yet in the catalog.  However these items should be replaced by ones from the Estimator catalog once they have been added to the Estimator catalog by the Thruway Authority (See Appendix C - Verifying Estimate and Placeholder Items).
  21. While items are usually added in sequential order to display in ascending order in the tree view, additional items can always be added out of sequence at the end of the Group and subsequently re-sorted.  This is accomplished by selecting a Group in the Tree view and clicking on the Item Number header in the Grid view.  The first click will sort the items in ascending order, while a second click will sort them in descending order.  Once in ascending order select the ‘Renumber Using Current Order' command from the Edit menu to make the sort permanent and to update the display in the Tree view.
  22. Enter a Quantity and Unit Price for each item.  If the item has a Reference Price or historical Bid Price associated with that item in the Estimator catalog, then that price will be displayed by default.  The user may override the default price by simply entering one manually in the Unit Price field.  Consultants can use the Average Weighted Bid Price Book (AWBPB) the Thruway Authority has developed to help estimate an item's cost. Besides general statistical data on each item, the AWBPB lists all the contracts the item has been used on (for the period of time covered by the book) and specific bid statistics for each contract.
  23. Estimator can employ alternate items, which requires bidders to eventually choose between certain predefined contract items.  To identify items as being alternatives to each other, the same prefix code must be entered into the ALT CODE field for each alternate along with a unique suffix number for each alternate (e.g. AA1, AA2, AA3, AA4 are all alternatives to each other).  Different sets of alternate items can be created by specifying different prefixes (e.g. AA2 and AA3 are alternatives to AA1, while AB2 is an alternative just to AB1).

    To create pairs or groups of alternate items, simply enter the exact same prefix and suffix in the ALT CODE field of each item that belongs to a particular pair or group (e.g. enter AA1 into the ALT CODE field for each of the items that should be bid on together, if chosen, and AA2 in the ALT CODE field of each of the items in the alternate group).  Estimator will utilize the lowest priced alternative(s) when calculating the total Group and Estimate Totals.
  24. Once all the items have been entered, the user should verify the estimate by clicking the Yellow Check Mark on the Toolbar or selecting the ‘Verify Estimate' command off of the Edit menu. Estimator will check the estimate and determine whether there are any problems. One of the key checks is for any items not currently in the Estimator catalog or improperly entered. Other checks are for items with blank quantities or prices.

    Additional checks for the following New York State specific errors are available in the Microsoft Access application, “nysta-estimate-reports.mdb":
    • Different unit prices for the same item in different groups.
    • A Lump Sum item whose quantity is not equal to 1.00.
    • A Direct Cost item whose unit price is not equal to $1.00.
    This involves exporting the data from Estimator, importing it into the MS Access application and printing one of the predefined reports.  Refer to the “New York State Thruway Authority Estimate Reports User Guide.doc" for specific instructions.


Printing within Estimator has been enhanced in this version.  There are several new report formats that closely match those previously available only in the Authority's Microsoft Access application, “New_York_State_Thruway_Authority_Estimate_Reports_Program.mdb" (See “New York State Thruway Authority Estimate Reports User Guide.doc").

Select the ‘Print' or “Print Preview" command from the File menu or click the printer icon on the Toolbar.  An option box will appear asking the user to select what format to use and what info is to appear on the report.

  • The default report lists each group, and all the items in each group. The shortest version of this report is run by leaving all boxes unchecked.  The report will include line number, item number, quantity, pay units, unit price, and extended amount. The next level of detail is available by selecting the option to show item descriptions.  This essentially doubles the size of the report by including the item description along with the other previously listed details.  Other variations can be printed by selecting the option to hide prices, show notes for Groups/Items and/or show price bases details.
  • Total item Quantities across Groups – This report lists the total quantity of an item across groups.   It is sorted by item number, and prints item number, total estimate quantity (sum of item quantities from all groups), units, total unit price and total extended amount.  Other variations can be printed by selecting the option to show item descriptions or hide prices.
  • Summary of Quantities by items and Groups - This report lists each item and each group where that item is used.  It is sorted by item number then group, and prints item number, group, quantity in each group, unit price in each group and extended amount in each group. Other variations can be printed by selecting the option to show item descriptions or hide prices.

Final Estimate

As part of the “Plans, Specification and Estimate" (PS&E) submission, the Consultant should email the Thruway Project Manager the Estimator file along with the following information:

  • The Project Identification Number (PIN)
  • The Project Description
  • A list of each Group and their cost (Group Total)
  • The total Estimate Cost generated by Estimator

Appendix A


A template contains a list of items commonly used on a particular type of project (i.e. Structures, Truck Parking Expansion, etc…).  It may also contain general quantity and pricing information to assist users in estimating their particular project.  A user can then remove any items not needed, as well as add any extra items not in the template. They can then add or edit the quantities and prices for each item, as appropriate.

The ESTIMATOR program allows any user to create a template using an existing Estimator file by simply selecting the ‘Save As' command from the File menu and selecting the ‘Estimate Template (*.etm)' as the type of file to save to.  Once created and stored in the Template directory, whenever a user selects the ‘New' command from the File menu a dialog box will appear asking the user to select one of the available templates or create a standard blank estimate.

Appendix B

Latitude & Longitude Values for Capital Projects

On all capital projects use the predefined values listed below.  The coordinates input into the Trns*port system will be used in the future to analyze bid data and generate location-specific bid history prices and trends.

County-Wide Projects: Thruway
Albany 42° 38' 00"  73° 47' 00"
Cayuga 43° 02' 50" 76° 37' 00"
Chautauqua 42° 24' 40"  79° 25' 40"
Columbia 42° 24' 20" 73° 31' 30"
Dutchess 41° 32' 00" 73° 49' 30"
Erie  42° 49' 40" 78° 47' 30"
Genesee 43° 01' 10" 78° 11' 10"
Greene 42° 18' 30" 73° 52' 20"
Herkimer 43° 00' 50"  74° 58' 20"
Madison 43° 05' 40"  75° 49' 10"
Monroe 43° 02' 30" 77° 41' 40"
Montgomery  42° 55'10"   74° 26'20"
Oneida  43° 07 '30"    75° 24' 30"
Onondaga 43° 07' 00" 76° 14' 20"
Ontario 42° 58' 40"  77° 13' 30"
Orange 41° 23 '00" 74° 06' 10"
Putnam 41° 25' 50"  73° 37' 50"
Rensselaer  42° 29' 10"   73° 41' 50"
Rockland   41° 06' 10" 74° 04' 30"
Schenectady 42° 49' 30"   74° 00' 50"
Seneca 42° 58' 00" 76° 50' 20"
Ulster  41° 52' 50"   74° 03' 30"
Westchester I-87: 40° 59' 40"
I-287: 41 °01' 50"
I-95: 40° 57' 20"
73° 51' 10"
73° 45' 00"
73° 44' 30"
Bronx 40° 52' 50"  73° 50' 00"

Division-Wide Projects
Division Latitude longitude
Albany Thruway: 42° 34' 00"
73° 47' 00"
Buffalo Thruway: 42° 55' 00"
78° 46' 00"
New York 41° 08' 00"  74° 10' 00"
Syracuse Thruway: 43° 06' 00" 
76° 00' 00"

Statewide Projects

Latitude: 43° 10' 00"   Longitude: 75° 40' 00"

For projects with work being performed at multiple discrete locations, the Latitude and Longitude for the location with the highest cost work should be reported.

Appendix C

Verifying an Estimate and Flagging Errors

  1. When a user adds a blank item to an estimate, it is automatically flagged in the Tree view.  If a user clicks on the Item Number field and either selects an item from the catalog dropdown or enters an item number that exists in the catalog, then the error flag is automatically removed.  If the user enters an item number that is not in the catalog, the error flag will remain.
  2. When a user adds an item to an estimate, the Quantity, Unit Price and Extension fields are by default set to zero.  If the user blanks out any of these fields, rather than entering values, the item will automatically be flagged in the Tree view.
  3. The Verify command not only reports specific information on the errors Estimator has currently flagged, but also re-scans the entire estimate, flagging and reporting items that are no longer in the catalog (i.e. recently disapproved), as well as removing the flags on items that were not in the previous catalog, but are now in the current catalog.  The latter are particularly important since those error flags do not update automatically when the estimate is opened, but do so only when the Verify command is run again or as specified in next Section.
  4. The Verify command will not detect the following errors in an estimate:
    1. A Quantity or Unit Price equal to zero.
    2. An item who's Item Number matches an Item Number in the catalog, but who's Description, or Units of Measure does not match the catalog item's Description, or Units of Measure.  This would most likely be due to a user manually changing the default values in those fields once the item was added to the estimate.
    3. The same item appearing more than once in a single group.
    4. The same item in more than one group, but with different Unit Prices.

Working with Placeholder Items in an Estimate

When an item does not exist in the official Thruway catalog, the user may enter a placeholder in Estimator in the Item Number field, along with temporary entries in the Description, and Units of Measure fields.  They may then enter estimated values in the Quantity and Unit Price fields.  The placeholder number and description should be the user's recommendations for the item they are proposing be added to the official Thruway catalog.  In addition, the letter ‘a' should be added to the end of the placeholder number.  However, the official item added to the Estimator catalog will not have a letter at the end of the item number.  Therefore, when replacing the placeholder, Estimator will interpret this action as selection of a completely new item number and update all the item information, as described in the first scenario below.

Note that when the user clicks on the item selection list in the Item Number field, in order to replace the placeholder number, the list will automatically jump to the closest match. If the official item number is similar to that originally proposed, the user will only need to scroll back a few numbers to find the appropriate replacement item. This will be the case if the letter ‘a’ was used in the placeholder number as described above.

  1. If a user clicks on a placeholder item's Item Number field and selects an item from the catalog list that is different than the placeholder item number, it updates the Item Number, Description, and Units of Measure fields, leaving the Quantity, Unit Price and Extension fields untouched (assuming Unit Price was based on Ad-hoc pricing, otherwise changing the item number will zero out the Unit Price and Extension fields or apply that new items default price basis (i.e. Reference Price, Bid History, etc…).  The error flag is automatically removed.
  2. If a user clicks on a placeholder item's Item Number field and selects an item from the catalog list that is exactly the same as the placeholder item number, Estimator does not update the Description or Units of Measure fields, even if those values in the catalog are different than what was originally entered in the estimate for the placeholder item.  It does leave the Quantity, Unit Price and Extension fields untouched.  The error flag is automatically removed, even though the item still contains incorrect information.