This month’s newsletter includes information about:
- 2012 World Steel Bridge Symposium Updates
- A Successful SteelDay in Washington, D.C.
- NSBA's Roger Ferch Weighs in Publicly on Bay Bridge
- Transportation Funding Update - Take Action!
- AISC Releases New Standard for Steel Bridge Fabricators
- AASHTO LRFD Steel Bridge Design Class Scheduled for December
- Video History of the Huey P. Long Bridge
2012 World Steel Bridge Symposium Updates
As we prepare for the 2012 World Steel Bridge Symposium, co-located with NASCC: The Steel Conference (www.aisc.org/nascc) in Dallas, there are some exciting things in the works that we would like to share with you.
Primarily, SIMON, NSBA’s software for preliminary steel plate and box girder bridge design, will be featured in a 90 minute workshop given by Frank Russo of Baker Engineering. Frank will walk through several design examples from NSBA’s Steel Bridge Design Handbook. An exclusive preliminary release version of SIMON will only be available for 2012 WSBS attendees. Be the first to receive a copy of SIMON when you register for the symposium.
Registration for World Steel Bridge Symposium is scheduled to open on December 5, 2011 (receive early registration discounts!) at www.aisc.org/nascc and we will provide additional information in our December newsletter.
A Successful SteelDay in Washington D.C.
On September 22, 2011, the eve of SteelDay (September 23), NSBA along with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) hosted a special event in the atrium of the US DOT headquarters in Washington, D.C. The event highlighted the importance of engineering education, job creation, the need for infrastructure investment, and the parallels between FHWA's Every Day Counts initiative and the National Student Steel Bridge Competition.
Starting from humble beginnings, the Student Steel Bridge competition has grown to more than 200 teams competing in preliminary contests, and 48 qualifying for last May's National Championships. Local student teams from Howard University and Virginia Tech were highlighted in the SteelDay eve event as they erected and displayed their steel bridges in the center of the US DOT atrium while excited onlookers prodded and asked questions.
See what U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, had to say about our event on his blog at FastLane.gov:
FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez lends a hand to the team from Howard University
Virginia Tech students move effortlessly along the length of their bridge
The event was a great showing of the future of American engineering and ingenuity. Brian Raff, marketing director for NSBA, said, “The students with us today could be our transportation and infrastructure decision-makers of tomorrow.”
For a full recap of highlights from the year’s SteelDay (www.SteelDay.org), view AISC’s press release at http://bit.ly/oF0xmR.
NSBA's Roger Ferch Weighs In Publicly on Bay Bridge
It’s been difficult to sort out all of the facts on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge project since the story “Bridge Comes to San Francisco With A Made-In-China Label,” surfaced in the New York Times back in late June. Since then, the steel industry has been pushing aggressively to tell its side of the story and clear the air about U.S. fabrication capacity and capability.
Since June, Roger Ferch, NSBA executive director, has interviewed with Fox News, ABC News, and NPR among many other local news publications.
ABC World News recently reported a story about U.S. bridges and roads being built in China in their “Bring America Back” feature. It discusses the $400 million Alexander Hamilton Bridge in New York, the grossly over-budget and extremely delayed $7.2 billion San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and the $190 million Tanana River Bridge in Alaska.
20/20 anchor Chris Cuomo reported the story and said, “In California, U.S. firms say they would have met those [Buy America] guidelines, but state officials decided to turn down federal money for a major part of the bridge allowing a Chinese company to get the job a cost of almost 3000 American jobs and a potential $1 billion boost to the struggling California economy.”
Click here to watch the ABC World News video.
When asked in the news report if CalTrans had done everything it could to keep jobs here in America, Tony Anziano of the California Department of Trasportation responded, “Absolutely.” What Mr. Anziano conveniently left out was that a U.S. group of fabricators formed a California-approved joint venture to create the capacity to fabricate the self-anchored suspension span for the bridge. The story also doesn’t report that the Chinese ALSO had to build a new facility to take on this additional work – they did not have the initial capacity nor the capability to fabricate this project from the get go.
It is NSBA’s view that federal involvement in a project means the entire project falls under the guidelines of the Buy America provisions. Splitting the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge project into nine separate contracts does not, and should not relieve Buy America requirements for all of them. In doing so, California found a way to get around the original intent of Congress for the self-anchored suspension span, and was able to farm fabrication services to the Chinese. What is most ironic about this story is that six years later, when asked to justify their decision, California officials claim that 70% of the steel in the project was produced domestically. In the true sense of irony, the only way to claim 70% domestic steel would be to include all of the rebar, anchor bolts, bearing plates, etc., ultimately treating the project as one singular contract, not in segments.
Transportation Funding Update - Take Action!
In a rare burst of coordination, Congress recently enacted a six-month extension of the highway bill, kicking the issue down the road to the end of March 2012. Congress also agreed to a continuation of the gas tax, defusing what had begun to look like the focal point of another fight on the Hill. Not long after reaching agreement on the highway bill, Chairman Mica of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, announced that the Republican leadership had told him he could increase highway funding in the House bill by $15 billion/year which would bring total funding to close to current 2010 funding levels.
Of course, the one constant in this debate is that neither the House, the Senate, nor the Administration has offered a real plan for how to pay for the bill and that continues to be the main hang-up on a long- term reauthorization. Early in September, President Obama announced his American Jobs Act, proposing $50 billion in transportation infrastructure spending, much like the stimulus bill three years ago. Also like the stimulus bill, the President's proposal included sweeping Buy America language for all transportation infrastructure projects, similar to what is already in place for highway and bridge construction. Both the House and Senate leadership have indicated, however, that they do not expect to consider the bill this fall. While there continues to be moments of activity in the House and Senate, the general expectation is that we will not see any significant action on the highway bill until next spring and, most likely, until after the November elections.
In light of this information, the Steel Fabricators of New England (SFNE) is calling its members (and all Americans) to take action and encourage elected officials to keep federal dollars in the U.S. NSBA is in full support of this effort and encourage our members and stakeholders within the steel bridge community to take action.
According to SFNE, “We need thousands of letters generated in order to have an impact. This is possible if everyone employed by the industry sends a letter.”
New England (and many American) fabricators are losing jobs and federal dollars to non-American companies. This is your chance to help save jobs right here in New England and throughout the country.
Sending a letter is fast and easy. Click here to be linked to the AISC Action page or visit SFNE's Votervoice page at www.votervoice.net/groups/sfne for more specific information about their campaign. We have drafted a letter for you - all you have to do is choose which elected official to send it to. It really is that easy -- and your participation could help prevent more job loss in America.
Please help -- send your letters today!
New Standard for Steel Bridge Fabricators
The standard outlines three categories of fabricator certification based on three types of bridges: simple, intermediate, and advanced; and it includes supplemental requirements for a fracture-critical member certification endorsement. The AISC Certification program expects to incorporate the new standard into its bridge fabricator certification program, replacing the current checklist-based certification program, over the next 24 months. The standard is available as a free download at www.aisc.org/specifications (under Certification Standards at the bottom of the web page), and the press release is available at http://www.aisc.org/news.
AASHTO LRFD Steel Bridge Design Class Scheduled for December
Highway Bridge Services, LLC is sponsoring an upcoming AASHTO/LRFD Steel Bridge Design Class, “Design of straight and curved steel girder bridges using AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications” (Latest Edition). The curriculum will include the design of gusset plates, rating steel bridges, global stability, and cross frames.
The class has been approved for 19 professional development hours by Florida State and New York State Boards of Professional Engineers.
It will take place on December 8-19, 2011 in Miami Beach, FL.
For more information and to register, visit the Highway Bridge Services website at www.h-b-s.org.
Video History of the Huey P. Long Bridge
When it opened in 1935, the Huey P. Long Bridge in New Orleans was the first Mississippi River crossing for both railroad cars and automobiles, and, at the time, was the longest railroad bridge in the world. A new video tells the story of the Huey P. Bridge in just five minutes and you can view it on YouTube at http://bit.ly/pliCIe.
Now, 75 years later, the bridge has undergone a major expansion that will add an additional travel lane and inside and outside shoulders to each side of the bridge - providing a safer, more reliable Mississippi River crossing. The first phase of the project began in April 2006 and the bridge is now in its final phase of construction. The entire project will be complete in 2013.
The video history of the Huey P. Bridge is one of several videos featured on the “Huey P. Long Bridge Widening Project” channel on YouTube. You can also view time-lapse videos of the bridge’s three Big Lifts and other informational videos about the project by visiting http://www.youtube.com/user/HueyPBridgeWidening.
To learn more about the Huey P. Long Bridge Widening Project, visitwww.timedla.com/bridge/long/overview and take a look back at one of our previous news posts commemorating Huey P.’s Topping Out at http://bit.ly/nsXlQi.