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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20590

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 14, 2000

Contacts: Karen Whitney, (202) 366-0660
  Claretta Duren, (202) 366-4636
FHWA 122-00

FHWA Reports Road Construction Costs Down in Third Quarter of 2000

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced that highway construction costs decreased 11.9 percent in the third quarter of 2000 compared to the second quarter of 2000, and increased 4.6 percent compared to the third quarter a year ago.

The third quarter results lowered the FHWA's composite index for highway construction costs to 137.9 percent of the 1987 base index (1987 average costs equal 100 percent).

Decreases in the unit prices for bituminous concrete, reinforcing steel, common excavation, structural steel, portland cement concrete and structural concrete lowered the index in the third quarter.

The three-quarter moving composite price index for the second quarter of 2000 - obtained by combining data for the first three quarters of 2000 - decreased 0.6 percent from the previous three-quarter average.

Trends in highway construction costs are measured by an index of average contract prices compiled from reports of state highway contract awards for federal-aid contracts greater than $500,000. Since the enactment of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, the index reflects federal-aid contracts on the National Highway System.

The composite price indices during the past two years and the percentage changes from the preceding quarter have been as follows:

Quarter Year Quarterly
Price Index
Percentage
Change
Three-quarter
Moving Index1
Percentage
Change
3rd Quarter1 1998 136.8 -- 130.6 --
4th Quarter 1998 131.4 -1.1 132.8 1.7
1st Quarter 1999 130.7 -7.4 134.4 1.2
2nd Quarter 1999 143.4 13.0 134.4 0.0
3rd Quarter 1999 131.8 -13.5 138.7 3.2
4th Quarter 1999 144.1 9.3 137.2 -1.1
1st Quarter 2000 138.1 -4.2 144.6 5.4
2nd Quarter 2000 156.6 13.4 143.8 -0.6
3rd Quarter 2000 137.9 -11.9 -- --

1 For the three-quarter moving index, these are the middle quarters of the three-quarter periods.

The price levels of the component items of the quarterly index in the 3rd quarter of 2000, the previous quarter, and the same quarter a year ago, and the corresponding percentage changes, are shown in the following table:

  Price Index

1987=100

Percentage change
this quarter
3rd quarter, 2000) from:
Component 3rd Quarter 2000 2nd Quarter 2000 3rd Quarter 1999 2nd Quarter 2000 3rd Quarter 1999
Excavation 121.2 143.6 133.4 -15.6 -9.1
Portland cement concrete 167.4 170.2 127.1 -1.6 31.7
Bituminous concrete 140.2 148.9 136.0 -5.8 3.1
Composite surfacing 149.1 155.9 133.1 -4.4 12.0
Reinforcing steel 84.2 150.2 128.8 -43.9 -34.6
Structural steel 151.7 161.9 125.9 -6.3 20.5
Structural concrete 139.3 164.8 132.6 -15.5 5.1
Composite structures 133.2 161.5 130.2 -17.5 2.3
Composite price index 137.9 156.6 131.8 -11.9 4.6

The price levels of the current component items of the three-quarter moving index in the 2nd quarter of 2000, the previous quarter, and the same quarter a year ago, and the corresponding percentage changes, are shown in the following table:

  Three-Quarter Moving Price Index

1987=100

Percentage Change This Quarter

(2nd Quarter 2000) from:

Component 2nd Quarter 2000 1st Quarter 2000 2nd Quarter 1999 1st Quarter 2000 2nd Quarter 1999
Excavation 124.1 118.6 125.1 4.6 -0.8
Portland cement concrete 168.7 173.0 152.2 -2.5 10.8
Bituminous concrete 141.1 138.5 129.7 1.9 8.8
Composite surfacing 150.2 149.8 137.1 .03 9.6
Reinforcing steel 120.9 135.5 125.2 -10.8 -3.4
Structural steel 145.9 144.6 135.1 0.9 8.0
Structural concrete 151.2 154.6 138.2 -2.2 9.4
Composite structures 144.6 148.7 135.1 -2.8 7.0
Composite price index 143.8 144.6 134.4 -0.6 7.0

The U.S. average contract unit prices for the index items during the various periods shown are:

  Individual Quarters Three-Quarters
Component Unit 2nd Quarter 2000 3rd Quarter 2000 1st Quarter 20001 2nd Quarter 20002
Excavation Cubic yard 2.71 2.94 2.88 3.01
Portland cement concrete Square yard3 25.17 24.65 25.49 24.85
Bituminous concrete Ton 32.65 34.55 34.13 34.78
Reinforcing steel Pound 0.590 0.371 0.597 0.533
Structural steel Pound 1.079 1.343 1.280 1.291
Structural concrete Cubic yard 364.40 335.58 372.31 364.08

1 Weighted average unit prices for the last quarter of 1999 and the first two quarters of 2000.

2 Weighted average unit prices for the first three quarters of 2000.

3Prices for Portland cement concrete surfacing reflect adjustments to a standard 9-inch thickness and do not include costs for reinforcing steel and joints.

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