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FHWA REPORTS ROAD CONSTRUCTION COSTS FOR FOURTH QUARTER OF 1998

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Federal Highway Administration

FHWA REPORTS ROAD CONSTRUCTION COSTS FOR FOURTH QUARTER OF 1998

Federal Highway Administration
February 16, 1999

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 16, 1999
Contacts: Karen Whitney, (202) 366-0660
Claretta Duren, (202) 366-4636
FHWA 10-99

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced that highway construction costs decreased 3.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 1998 and 4.9 percent compared to the fourth quarter a year ago.

The fourth quarter results lowered the FHWA's composite index for highway construction costs to 131.4 percent of the 1987 base index (1987 average costs equal 100 percent).

A decrease in the unit prices for bituminous concrete, common excavation, and structural steel lowered the index in the fourth quarter. There were increases in the unit prices for portland cement concrete, structural concrete, and reinforcing steel.

The three-quarter moving composite price index for the third quarter of 1998—obtained by combining data for the first three quarters of 1998—increased 3.8 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

1996 1995

119.5

--

125.6

--

1st Quarter Quarter

1997

133.6

11.8

127.7

1.7

2nd Quarter Quarter

1997

130.4

-2.4

129.3

1.3

3rd Quarter 2nd Quarter

1997

122.3

-6.2

129.4

0.1

4th Quarter Quarter

1997

138.2

13.0

124.7

-3.6

1st Quarter Quarter

1998

119.6

-13.5

124.6

-0.1

2nd Quarter Quarter

1998

125.6

5.0

125.8

1.0

3rd Quarter

1998

136.8

8.9

125.8

130.6

3.8

4th Quarter

1998

131.4

-3.9

--

--

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 4th quarter of 1998, 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, 1998) from:

Component

4th Quarter 1998

3rd Quarter 1998

4th Quarter 1997

3rd Quarter 1998

4th Quarter 1997

Excavation

114.1

136.6

102.7

-16.5

11.1

Portland cement concrete

170.8

160.6

192.5

6.4

-11.3

Bituminous concrete

104.7

132.9

126.4

-21.2

-17.2

Composite surfacing

126.4

142.0

148.1

-11.0

-14.7

Reinforcing steel

133.5

100.7

124.7

32.6

7.1

Structural steel

125.8

130.3

171.9

-3.5

-26.8

Structural concrete

152.0

142.1

131.9

7.0

15.2

Composite structures

141.9

131.9

141.2

7.6

0.5

Composite price index

131.4

136.8

138.2

-3.9

-4.9

The price levels of the current component items of the three-quarter moving index in the 3rd quarter of 1998, 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 1998) from:

Component

3rd Quarter 1998

2nd Quarter 1998

3rd Quarter 1997

2nd Quarter 1998

3rd Quarter 1997

Excavation

124.6

127.7

120.4

-2.4

3.5

Portland cement concrete

161.2

157.4

166.9

2.4

-3.4

Bituminous concrete

117.0

100.4

116.2

16.5

0.7

Composite surfacing

131.5

119.2

132.8

1.9

-8.5

Reinforcing steel

116.1

120.9

126.9

-4.0

-8.5

Structural steel

123.5

125.4

135.4

-1.5

-8.8

Structural concrete

140.2

137.3

126.9

2.1

10.5

Composite structures

131.7

131.4

129.2

0.2

1.9

Composite price index

130.6

125.8

129.4

3.8

0.9

 

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 1998

4th Quarter 1998

2nd Quarter 19981

3rd Quarter 19982

Excavation Cubic yard

3.31

2.77

$3.10

3.02

Portland cement concrete Square yard3

23.66

25.16

23.19

23.75

Bituminous concrete Ton

32.77

25.80

24.76

28.85

Reinforcing steel Pound

0.444

0.588

0.533

0.512

Structural steel Pound

1.153

1.114

1.110

1.093

Structural concrete Cubic yard

342.12

366.06

330.77

337.68

1 Weighted average unit prices for the last quarter of 1997 and the first two quarters of 1998.
2 Weighted average unit prices for the first three quarters of 1998.
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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