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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 14, 2000
Contacts:
Karen Whitney, (202)366-0660
Claretta Duren, (202)366-4636
FHWA 8-00

FHWA REPORTS ROAD CONSTRUCTION COSTS FOR FOURTH QUARTER OF 1999

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced that highway construction costs increased 9.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 1999 as compared to the third quarter of 1999 and 9.7 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 1998.

The fourth quarter raised the FHWA's composite index for highway construction costs to 144.1 percent of the 1987 base index (1987 average costs equal 100 percent).

Increases in the unit prices for portland cement concrete, structural steel, and structural concrete raised the index in the fourth quarter. There were decreases in the unit prices for common excavation, bituminous concrete and reinforcing steel.

The three-quarter moving composite price index for the third quarter of 1999 - obtained by combining data for the last three quarters of 1999 - increased 3.2 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
4th Quarter1 1997 138.2 -- 124.7 --
1st Quarter 1998   119.6 -13.5 124.6
2nd Quarter 1998
1997
125.6 5.0 125.8 1.0
3rd Quarter 1998 136.8 8.9 130.6 3.8
4th Quarter 1998 131.4 -3.9 132.8 1.7
1st Quarter 1999 130.7 -0.5 134.4 1.2
2nd Quarter 1999 143.4 9.7 134.4 0.0
3rd Quarter 1999 131.8 -8.1 138.7 3.2
4th Quarter 1999 144.1 9.3 -- --

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 4th quarter of 1999, 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
(4th quarter, 1999) from:
Component 4th Quarter 1999 3rd Quarter 1999 4th Quarter 1998 3rd Quarter 1999 4th Quarter 1998
Excavation 109.3 133.4 114.0 -18.1 -4.1
Portland cement concrete 190.3 127.1 170.8 49.7 11.4
Bituminous concrete 133.9 135.9 104.7 -1.5 27.9
Composite surfacing 152.4 133.0 126.4 14.6 20.6
Reinforcing steel 127.2 128.8 133.5 -1.2 -4.7
Structural steel 147.3 125.9 125.8 17.0 17.1
Structural concrete 155.2 132.6 152.0 17.0 2.1
Composite structures 148.3 130.2 141.9 13.9 4.5
Composite price index 144.1 131.8 131.4 9.3 9.7

The price levels of the current component items of the three-quarter moving index in the 3rd quarter of 1999, 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
(3rd Quarter 1999) from:
Component 3rd Quarter 1999 2nd Quarter 1999 3rd Quarter 1998 2nd Quarter 1999 3rd Quarter 1998
Excavation 124.2 125.1 124.6 -0.7 -0.3
Portland cement concrete 163.9 152.2 161.2 7.7 1.7
Bituminous concrete 134.1 129.1 117.0 3.9 14.6
Composite surfacing 143.9 137.1 131.5 5.0 9.4
Reinforcing steel 126.8 125.2 116.1 1.3 9.2
Structural steel 138.0 135.1 123.5 2.1 11.7
Structural concrete 142.9 138.2 140.2 3.4 1.9
Composite structures 138.8 135.1 131.7 2.7 5.4
Composite price index 138.7 134.4 130.6 3.2 6.2

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

    Individual Quarters Three-Quarters
Component Unit 3rd Quarter 1999 4th Quarter 1999 2nd Quarter 19991 3rd Quarter 19992
Excavation Cubic yard $3.23 $2.65 $3.03 $3.01
Portland cement concrete Square yard3 18.72 28.04 22.43 24.16
Bituminous concrete Ton 33.53 33.00 31.97 33.04
Reinforcing steel Pound 0.568 0.560 0.552 0.559
Structural steel Pound 1.115 1.304 1.195 1.222
Structural concrete Cubic yard 319.34 373.81 332.71 344.14

1 Weighted average unit prices for the first three quarters of 1999.
2 Weighted average unit prices for the last three quarters of 1999.
3 Prices 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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