This month’s newsletter includes information about:
- 2012 World Steel Bridge Symposium Updates
- Submissions Open for 2012 Prize Bridge Awards
- NSBA Legislative Report - The Buy America Fight
- MaineDOT Bridge Staff Tour Manufacturing Facility in South Portland
- Railroads Aim To Replace or Revamp Railroad Bridges
- SteelShots: Deja vu
- Accelerated Bridge Construction Pioneer Dies at 80
- Dr. Ahmad M. Itani Receives 2011 SMDI/AASHTO Richard S. Fountain Award
2012 World Steel Bridge Symposium
As we prepare for the 2012 World Steel Bridge Symposium, co-located with NASCC: The Steel Conference (www.aisc.org/nascc) at the Gaylord Texan Convention Center in Dallas, April 18-20, 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.
As a primer for the upcoming 2012 WSBS, we encourage you to take a look at the papers submitted for the 2009 WSBS. More than 60 papers are available for free downloading and cover more than just the following topics:
- Prefabricated Bridges and Accelerated Bridge Construction
- Bridge Erection
- Practical Solutions
- Skewed Bridges
- Fabricator-focused topics
Registration for the 2012 WSBS 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.
Submissions Open for 2012 Prize Bridge Awards
The Prize Bridge Competition, a prestigious industry awards program organized by the National Steel Bridge Alliance, honors significant and innovative steel bridges constructed in the United States. Entries are now being accepted for the 2012 Prize Bridge Awards and the winners will be announced at the 2012 World Steel Bridge Symposium, co-located with NASCC: The Steel Conference (www.aisc.org/nascc) in Dallas, April 18-20.
All award-winning bridges must be built of fabricated structural steel and must be located in the United States (defined as the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories). Eligible bridges must have been completed and opened to traffic between May 1, 2009 and September 30, 2011.
To submit a bridge project for consideration, please click here. The deadline for submissions is December 31, 2011.
NSBA Legislative Report – The Buy America Fight
In June, a very unusual Buy America loophole came to light in the form of a railroad bridge project for the Alaska Railroad. Known as the Tanana River Bridge, located near Fairbanks, Alaska, the bridge was part of an overall railroad extension project. The $180 million bridge had received more than $100 million in Department of Defense earmarked funds, administered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), because of the access it would provide to military facilities. NSBA members assumed Buy America would apply and this would be a significant project for domestic producers and fabricators; but we were wrong.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) took the position that since these funds were Department of Defense funds and not Department of Transportation funds being administered through a traditional federal transportation program, Buy America would not be in effect. Not surprisingly then, the Alaska Railroad and the winning contractor decided to go with a Chinese bid.
NSBA, along with its member companies and the United Steelworkers, fought aggressively to raise concerns to Congress, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the U.S. DOT that federal funds should not be used to subsidize the growth of the Chinese fabricating industry. These efforts included meetings on Capitol Hill, Congressional letters to the Department on behalf of NSBA, as well as meeting with Federal Railroad Administrator, Joe Szabo, and the FRA's general counsel. During this meeting, the FRA shared that U.S. Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, had been engaged in this issue through the efforts of NSBA.
Unfortunately, the Buy America law does not address nor contemplate the unique circumstance of the use of federal funds from a non-DOT agency on a federal transportation project; and the efforts to convert this to a domestic steel project were unsuccessful.
Through the effort, however, NSBA established stronger relationships across the US DOT and was asked to be part of their effort to extend and rationalize the application of Buy America on federal transportation projects. The specific loophole identified by the Tanana Bridge project may well be once in a lifetime, however, there are three steps that NSBA would like to pursue:
1. Amend law and regulation so that Buy America applies on transportation projects administered by the DOT, no matter the federal source.
2. Extend Buy America transparency efforts now in place for FHWA.
3. Task federal agency with monitoring and reporting on how federal funds are used on the Tanana River Bridge project.
The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge project highlighted the segmentation loophole. It has also gone on to demonstrate serious deficiencies in the Chinese bid. The Tanana River Bridge, though now a foreign steel project, can also be used as an example to help dispel the myths about why domestic steel is not competitive on major projects.
As of November 10, 2011, The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, in a unanimous 18-0 vote, approved a two-year reauthorization of federal highway programs at current funding levels. The bill now moves to the Senate floor calendar, where it will wait for three other committees to approve funding, transit, and safety components that will eventually be merged into one piece of legislation. For up-to-date information on highway reauthorization, visit http://www.aashtojournal.org.
Most importantly, voicing your opinion is critical to the success of this industry. Sending a letter to Congress is fast and easy. Click here to to visit the AISC Action page for more specific information about improving Buy America regulations. 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!
MaineDOT Bridge Staff Tour Manufacturing Facility in South Portland
By invitation of NSBA and Casco Bay Steel in Saco and South Portland, staff from MaineDOT’s bridge program toured Casco Bay Steel’s South Portland facility on October 21. State-of-the-art technology and Maine’s work ethic were on display as staff viewed fabrication of large and complex steel members for bridges throughout New England. In particular, staff observed the installation of a 22-ton finely-machined trunnion into a bridge girder using extremely cold and hot temperatures in different components to improve working tolerances. These components are headed for Massachusetts, but the firm also delivers to all of New England and New York. Casco Bay Steel is a prime example of a small startup company that has excelled in Maine.
Like the visit at Casco Bay Steel, we encourage all of our members to invite owners and elected officials to your facilities to give them a better sense of what you do. If you would like help setting up a shop tour for your state DOT employees and/or elected officials, please contact your NSBA Regional Director (don’t know who that is in your area? You can find them on NSBA’s website, here).
Railroads Aim To Replace or Revamp Railroad Bridges
It’s safe to say that our nation’s bridges have seen better days. With just about 25 percent of our National Bridge Inventory designated “deficient,” there is a huge need for bridge rehabilitation and replacement. However, it’s not just the highway bridges that are suffering. Many U.S. rail bridges are close to or more than a century old and are in need of some “TLC.” Luckily, railroads are pursuing projects to do just that.
For a great read from Progressive Railroading on replacing America’s railroad bridges, click here.
SteelShots: Bridge Deja Vu
Completed in March 2011, the North Umpqua River (Brown) Bridge in Douglas County, Ore., replaced a severely deteriorated seven-span, cast-in-place concrete bridge. The photo of the completed bridge bears a remarkable resemblance to the artist’s rendering that appeared in a December 2010 MSC article about the project. Photo (and rendering): OBEC Consulting Engineers.
For a more detailed read, click here.
Accelerated Bridge Construction Pioneer Dies At 80
Stanley Grossman, 80, of Norman, Okla., died October 15, 2011, after a long battle with malignant melanoma and a degenerative spine disorder. Always the innovator, Grossman developed the Inverset system, one early form of accelerated bridge technology. Additional information is available at http://bit.ly/ue4ASO.
Ahmad M. Itani, Ph.D., P.E. receives 2011 SMDI/AASTHO Richard S. Fountain Award
The Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) Steel Bridge Task Force and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Technical Committee for Structural Steel Design have named Ahmad M. Itani, Ph.D., P.E., S.E., F., ASCE as the recipient of the 2011 Richard S. Fountain Award. For more information, visit the American Iron and Steel Institute’s website by clicking here.