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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 30, 2000
Contacts:
Karen Whitney, 202-366-0660
Claretta Duren, (202) 366-4636
FHWA 38-00

FHWA Reports Road Construction Costs Decreased During First Quarter of 2000

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced that highway construction costs decreased 4.2 percent in the first quarter of 2000 as compared to the fourth quarter of 1999 and 5.7 percent compared to the first quarter of 1999.

The first quarter results lowered the FHWA's composite index for highway construction costs to 138.1 percent of the 1987 base index (1987 average costs equal 100 percent).

Decreases in the unit prices for bituminous concrete, structural concrete, structural steel, and Portland cement concrete lowered the index in the first quarter. There were increases in the unit prices for common excavation and reinforcing steel.

The three-quarter moving composite price index for the fourth quarter of 1999 - obtained by combining data for the last two quarters of 1999 with the first quarter of 2000 - decreased 1.1 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
1st Quarter1 1998 119.6 -- 124.6 --
2nd Quarter 1998 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 9.3 137.2 -1.1
1st Quarter 2000 138.1 -4.2 -- --
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 1st 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 (1st quarter, 2000) from:
Component 1st Quarter 2000 4th Quarter 1999 1st Quarter 1999 4th Quarter 1999 1st Quarter 1999
Excavation 111.8 109.3 113.5 2.3 -1.5
Portland cement concrete 170.9 190.3 149.9 -10.2 14.0
Bituminous concrete 132.5 133.9 120.7 -1.0 9.8
Composite surfacing 145.1 152.4 130.3 -4.8 11.4
Reinforcing steel 133.9 127.2 123.2 5.3 8.7
Structural steel 121.9 147.3 139.1 -17.2 -12.4
Structural concrete 151.3 155.2 140.2 -2.5 7.9
Composite structures 140.6 148.3 136.9 -5.2 2.7
Composite price index 138.1 144.1 130.7 -4.2 5.7

The price levels of the current component items of the three-quarter moving 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:

  Three-Quarter Moving 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 114.7 124.2 121.7 -7.6 -5.8
Portland cement concrete 160.2 163.9 159.9 -2.3 0.2
Bituminous concrete 134.0 134.1 119.4 -0.1 12.2
Composite surfacing 142.6 143.9 132.7 -0.9 7.5
Reinforcing steel 130.1 126.8 118.1 2.6 10.2
Structural steel 132.7 138.0 133.3 -3.8 -0.5
Structural concrete 146.1 142.9 143.8 2.2 1.6
Composite structures 139.8 138.9 136.6 0.6 2.3
Composite price index 137.2 138.7 132.8 -1.1 3.3

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

  Individual Quarters Three-Quarters
Component Unit 4th Quarter 1999 1st Quarter 2000 3rd Quarter 19991 4th Quarter 19992
Excavation Cubic yard $2.65 $2.71 $3.01 $2.78
Portland cement concrete Square yard 3 28.04 25.17 24.16 23.60
Bituminous concrete Ton 33.00 32.65 33.04 33.04
Reinforcing steel Pound 0.568 0.590 0.559 0.573
Structural steel Pound 1.304 1.079 1.222 1.175
Structural concrete Cubic yard 373.81 364.40 344.14 351.75

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