FHWA Resource Center
Structural Committee for Economic Fabrication (SCEF)
Steel Availability and Cost Survey
AASHTO Subcommittee on Bridges and Structures
On June 9, 2008 the following Survey was sent to all members of the AASHTO Highway Subcommittee on Bridges and Structures:
Are you or other divisions in your department of transportation having serious concerns regarding the availability of reinforcing and structural steel for their future projects?
What, if any, action is your state taking regarding this issue?
The survey received good response, with 40 states replying to the questions by the June 30th deadline. The following is a summary of the responses and comments given by those 40 states.
Nine (9) states out of forty responding (22.5%) had concerns on the availability of rebar steel. Fifteen (15) states had concerns on the availability of structural steel (37.5%).
Cost Volatility was a bigger concern. Twenty-five (25) out of 40 states, or 62.5% responded that they had concerns about rebar steel costs, and thirty-two (32), or 80% of the responding states commented that they had concerns about costs of structural steel.
Many states also voiced concerns about delivery schedules. Eighteen (18) of the responding states (45%) stated that they had delivery schedule issues, and 10 of those states responded that they handle these issues using occasional pre-order of steel, separate lettings for steel fabrication or early reward of steel contracts.
When asked how the states were handling these concerns, 13 states (32.5%) commented that they had an Escalation Clause or Price Index in place. 10 states said that they are examining the option of an Escalation Clause and plan to use one in the future.
Eight (8) of the responding states said that their main plan for dealing with these problems is to use alternate structures (prestressed concrete, etc) or they have no steel bridges being built in the immediate future.
Lastly, eight (8) states voiced no concerns at this time either because of a highly competitive bidding climate, or a history of using other types of building materials (i.e. states that use mostly prestressed concrete in their bridges).
Overall, it seems that most states have concerns about rising costs, although availability of steel material does not seem to be an issue right now. Several states mentioned cost increases of 30-40% over the past year, and in many states, delivery times have increased to the point that states must take special actions to ensure on time-delivery.
See the attached Excel Spreadsheet for the full compilation of survey responses broken down by state and including comments from each state.