Road Construction Costs in Montana National Forests

CED-77-83: Published: Jun 10, 1977. Publicly Released: Jun 10, 1977.

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It costs the Forest Service more to have roads constructed under a public works contract than it does when timber purchasers are allowed a credit against the sale price of timber to offset road construction costs.

Two factors account for this: the Service has more stringent contracting and contract administration procedures for public works roads, and wages paid under public works contracts are higher, as they must accord with provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act. Davis-Bacon and union wage rates can be 30 percent to 50 percent higher than nonunion rates. The number of Service-contracted public works roads may increase because of recent legislation, which provides that for roads costing over $20,000, small business timber purchasers have the option of having the Service contract for roads that would otherwise be built under a timber price reduction method. This may eliminate some of the cost differences now existing under the two methods of road building. There were also more bidders on timber sale contracts with purchase credits for road construction than on contracts without such credits.

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