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FHWA REPORTS ROAD CONSTRUCTION COSTS FOR FIRST QUARTER OF 1999

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Federal Highway Administration

FHWA REPORTS ROAD CONSTRUCTION COSTS FOR FIRST QUARTER OF 1999

Federal Highway Administration
May 5, 1999

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 5, 1999
Contacts: Karen Whitney, (202)366-0660
Claretta Duren, (202)366-4636
FHWA 31-99

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced that highway construction costs decreased 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 1999 compared to the last quarter of 1998, and increased 9.3 percent compared to the first quarter a year ago.

The first quarter results lowered the FHWA's composite index for highway construction costs to 130.7 percent of the 1987 base index (1987 average costs equal 100 percent).

Decreases in the unit prices for reinforcing steel, common excavation, portland cement concrete, and structural concrete reduced the index in the first quarter. There was an increase in the unit price for structural steel and bituminous concrete.

The three-quarter moving composite price index for the fourth quarter of 1998 -- obtained by combining data for the last two quarters of 1998 with the first quarter of 1999 -- increased 1.7 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

1997

133.6

--

127.7

--

2nd Quarter

1997

130.4

-2.4

129.3

1.3

3rd Quarter

1997

122.3

-6.2

129.4

0.1

4th Quarter

1997

138.2

13.0

124.7

-3.6

1st Quarter

1998 1997

119.6

-13.5

124.6

-0.1

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

--

--

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 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

(1st quarter, 1999) from:

Component

1st Quarter 1999

4th Quarter 1998

1st Quarter 1998

4th Quarter 1998

1st Quarter 1998

Excavation

113.5

114.1

123.1

-0.5

-7.8

Portland cement concrete

149.9

170.8

158.9

-12.2

-5.7

Bituminous concrete

120.7

104.7

68.8

15.3

75.4

Composite surfacing

130.3

126.4

98.4

3.1

32.4

Reinforcing steel

123.2

133.5

147.0

-7.7

-16.2

Structural steel

139.1

125.8

129.7

10.6

7.2

Structural concrete

140.2

152.0

139.4

-7.8

0.6

Composite structures

136.9

141.9

137.2

-3.5

-0.2

Composite price index

130.7

131.4

119.6

-0.5

9.3

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

Three-Quarter Moving 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

121.7

124.6

116.2

-2.3

4.7

Portland cement concrete

159.9

161.2

166.4

-0.8

-3.9

Bituminous concrete

119.4

117.0

95.6

2.1

24.9

Composite surfacing

132.7

131.5

118.8

0.9

11.7

Reinforcing steel

118.1

116.1

132.9

1.7

-11.1

Structural steel

133.3

123.5

136.3

7.9

–2.2

Structural concrete

143.8

140.2

131.5

2.6

9.4

Composite structures

136.6

131.7

133.0

3.7

2.7

Composite price index

132.8

130.6

124.7

1.7

6.5

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 1998

1st Quarter 1999

3rd Quarter 19981

4th Quarter 19982

Excavation Cubic yard

$2.77

$2.75

$3.02

$2.95

Portland cement concrete Square yard3

25.16

22.09

23.75

23.55

Bituminous concrete Ton

25.80

29.74

28.85

29.43

Reinforcing steel Pound

0.588

0.543

0.512

0.521

Structural steel Pound

1.114

1.231

1.093

1.180

Structural concrete Cubic yard

366.06

337.60

337.68

346.25

1 Weighted average unit prices for the last three quarters of 1998.

2 Weighted average unit prices for the last two quarters of 1998 and the first quarter 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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