Tuesday, November 12, 2013

With Steel Construction At Near Record Highs American Bridge Company Shuts Down Fabrication

                  Explaining the company’s decision to shutter its steel fabrication facilities in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania and Reeds Port, Oregon, American Bridge Company CEO Mike Flowers says the firm’s backlog of steel erection orders and revenues from new steel construction projects are at near record highs, but unfortunately both the projects being completed and those on the drawing boards use steel members whose gigantic dimensions are too expensive to fabricate in the United States. “The products the plants make no longer matches the products needed by the construction company,” Flowers said.
                    Instead, American Bridge, in a joint venture with international construction giant Fluor Corporation, is completing the $1.9 billion reconstruction of the San Francisco Bay Bridge using steel beams and columns fabricated in China where labor costs are dramatically lower. Construction companies unable to find low cost fabrication here in the US work around Congressional “Buy American Steel” legislation by purchasing U. S. made plate, shipping it by ocean to China, where it is fabricated into the required bridge elements and then put on freighters returning to American ports. So much for Congressional attempts to keep steel forming jobs in this country.
                    Because highway bridge construction in the U. S. turned primarily away from all steel bridges to less expensive reinforced concrete bridge members, the majority of bridges currently needing repair or replacement are not within the all steel bridge specialty of American Bridge. As a result, Flowers said, the fabricating arm of American Bridge has been financially unhealthy for years. If Congressman Mica’s prediction of rapidly declining federal highway construction funding is correct, neither the steelworking trade nor the ironworking trade can take much comfort in the highly touted “Buy American Steel” clauses Congress has inserted into many of its recent infrastructure funding bills.

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