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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 9, 2001
Contacts:
Karen Whitney, (202) 366-0660
Claretta Duren, (202) 366-4636
FHWA 19-01

FHWA Reports Road Construction Costs Increased in First Quarter of 2001

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced that highway construction costs increased 0.9 percent in the first quarter of 2001 compared to the fourth quarter of 2000, and increased 9.5 percent compared to the first quarter a year ago.

The first quarter results raised the FHWA's composite index for highway construction costs to 151.2 percent of the 1987 base index (1987 average costs equal 100 percent).

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

The three-quarter moving composite price index for the fourth quarter of 2000 -- obtained by combining data for the last two quarters of 2000 with the first quarter of 2001 -- decreased 1.6 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
1st Quarter1 1999 130.7 -- 134.4 --
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 -4.2 144.6 5.4
2nd Quarter 2000 156.6 13.4 143.8 -0.6
3rd Quarter 2000 137.9 -11.9 148.2 3.1
4th Quarter 2000 149.9 8.7 145.9 -1.6
1st Quarter 2001 151.2 0.9 -- --

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 1st quarter of 2001, 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, 2001) from:
Component 1st Quarter
2001
4th Quarter
2000
1st Quarter
2000
4th Quarter
2000
1st Quarter
2000
Excavation 161.3 124.1 111.8 30.0 44.3
Portland cement concrete 203.2 179.9 170.9 13.0 18.9
Bituminous concrete 143.2 148.2 132.5 -3.4 8.1
Composite surfacing 162.9 158.6 145.1 2.7 12.3
Reinforcing steel 130.7 133.6 133.9 -2.2 -2.4
Structural steel 165.1 161.3 121.9 2.4 35.4
Structural concrete 125.7 150.6 151.3 -16.5 -16.9
Composite structures 136.9 150.5 140.6 -9.0 -2.6
Composite price index 151.2 149.9 138.1 0.9 9.5

The price levels of the current component items of the three-quarter moving index in the 4th 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
(4th Quarter 2000) from:
Component 4th Quarter
2000
3rd Quarter
2000
4th Quarter
1999
3rd Quarter
2000
4th Quarter
1999
Excavation 132.9 128.9 114.7 3.1 15.9
Portland cement concrete 185.5 173.1 160.2 7.2 15.8
Bituminous concrete 143.8 146.1 134.0 -1.6 7.3
Composite surfacing 157.5 154.9 142.6 1.7 10.4
Reinforcing steel 117.1 120.8 130.1 -3.1 -10.0
Structural steel 160.2 159.4 132.7 0.5 20.7
Structural concrete 137.0 151.3 146.1 -9.5 -6.2
Composite structures 139.8 148.3 139.8 -5.7 0.0
Composite price index 145.9 148.2 137.2 -1.6 6.3

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
2000
4th Quarter
2000
2nd Quarter
20001
3rd Quarter
20002
Excavation Cubic yard 2.94 3.01 3.01 3.15
Portland cement concrete Square yard3 24.65 26.51 24.85 25.50
Bituminous concrete Ton 34.55 36.54 34.78 36.01
Reinforcing steel Pound 0.371 0.589 0.533 0.532
Structural steel Pound 1.343 1.427 1.352 1.411
Structural concrete Cubic yard 335.58 362.70 364.08 364.46

1 Weighted average unit prices for the last three quarters of 2000.

2 Weighted average unit prices for the last two quarters of 2000 and the first quarter of 2001.

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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