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AAM billboard campaign criticizes use of Chinese steel on Bay Bridge
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Saturday, 31 Mar 2012

It is reported that a group based in Washington DC, that represents manufacturers and steel workers, unveiled two billboards in Oakland that criticize the use of steel from China for parts of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge.

Mr Scott Paul, the executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said that "It was a stupid, shortsighted decision" to use steel from China for the bridge project."

Mr Paul said that he doesn't think using steel from China will save taxpayers any money and if Caltrans had used steel from the US thousands of jobs would have been created for American workers. One of the signs is east of the Bay Bridge toll plaza and the other is off Interstate Highway 880 near High Street in Oakland.

The billboards feature a bright red Chinese flag and say "The Bay Bridge 100 percent foreign steel" and include the alliance's website.

Mr Paul said the alliance's "Should Be Made in America" campaign is aimed at sparking changes in federal, state, and local procurement policies.

He said the US needs to repair trillions of dollars in crumbling infrastructure over the next decade, including nearly USD 500 billion worth in California alone, and the campaign is arguing that the most effective boost to the US economy would be to ensure that US firms are given the work whenever permissible under existing trade obligations.

Mr Paul said 20 US states are currently considering, or have recently passed, legislation to provide preferences for American steel and manufactured goods in state level procurement.

Mr John Goodwin, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which helped coordinate funding for the Bay Bridge work, said the billboards have misleading information. He said 76% of the steel used for the new eastern span was fabricated in the US.

Mr Goodwin said the only portion using steel from China is the self anchored suspension span, which is 2,047 feet long. He said the main contractors for the eastern span are two American companies, Fluor, which is based in Texas and American Bridge, which is based in Pennsylvania.

He said those companies, not the MTC or Caltrans, chose ZPMC, which has a steel fabrication plant in Shanghai, to supply the steel for the self anchored suspension span.

Caltrans spokesman Mr Bart Ney said ZPMC was chosen because no American companies had the capacity to provide the steel needed for the span. He said having an American company provide the steel was not a possibility then and still isn't a possibility now.

Mr Paul said he thinks the Bay Bridge project has been a fiasco because of several delays but Ney said he thinks it is a success story. He said the alliance supports federal legislation that would strengthen buy America requirements for transportation and infrastructure projects.

But Mr Randal O'Toole, a transportation expert for the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Washington DC, said such requirements only make infrastructure more expensive and therefore make infrastructure spending less effective.

Source - KTVU


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