Bridge Owners Look to Steel to Fix our Nation’s Infrastructure

Weathering Steel Bridge Construction

Bridge Owners Look to Steel to Fix our Nation’s Infrastructure

Is the steel industry ready to repair our nation’s bridges? Charles J. Carter, SE, PE, PhD, president of the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) and executive director of the National Steel Bridge Alliance, says yes. 

“We’re excited that funding is finally becoming available to rejuvenate and improve America’s bridges. The American steel fabrication industry and our domestic steel mills are ready and able to meet our nation’s infrastructure needs,” stated Carter in a recent press release

As you probably remember, in fall of 2021, demand for steel was high, supply was limited, and prices were high. Fortunately, domestic steel mills are finally catching up and not subject to the current port delays most supply chains continue to experience. 

“To accommodate the expected increased demand from the recently passed infrastructure bill, the steel industry is rapidly adding capacity, such as the $1.7 billion plate mill now under construction in Kentucky and additional upgrades being made by multiple steel producers. According to steel mill representatives, the industry has the capacity to support both the current and expected future demand for steel. And on the fabrication side, many companies have upgraded their equipment, improved their automation, and increased their staffing in anticipation of increased bridge projects due to the new infrastructure bill,” AISC shared. 

As bridge owners turn to steel for both rebuilds and new bridge projects, Central Steel Service recommends looking specifically at weathering steel

6 Reasons to Choose Weathering Steel for Bridge Construction 

While standard steel bridges take advantage of the latest advances in technology to provide economic solutions, weathering steel bridges offer further benefits. 

  1. Weathering steel reduces construction time and costs. Because weathering steel is used unpainted in most applications, there is no need for site painting. When this step of construction is eliminated, both the construction time and costs are reduced. Plus, as with other steel bridges, weathering steel bridges can be designed with prefabricated elements which provide a simpler installation and time savings.
  2. Weathering steel bridges outlast concrete bridges. The long-term durability of steel bridges have been clearly documented, while the long-term durability of concrete bridges remains uncertain. Due to its chemical makeup, weathering steel forms a protective patina that prevents corrosion. Believe it or not, the corrosion rate is so low that bridges fabricated from unpainted weathering steel can achieve a 120-year life span with minimal maintenance. 
  3. Weathering steel bridges require minimal maintenance. Speaking of minimal maintenance…periodic inspection and cleaning should be the only maintenance required to ensure the weathering steel structure continues to perform well. No initial painting nor future maintenance painting is required! This characteristic makes weathering steel ideal for bridges where access can be difficult and disruption needs to be minimized.
  4. Weathering steel bridges are aesthetically-pleasing. The patina that weathering steel forms over time blends well in gardens, backyards, parks, and other outdoor environments where bridges are often required. 
  5. Weathering steel is a cost-effective material for bridge construction. When it comes to bridge construction, savings in material can be offset by increases in fabrication cost. In certain instances, adding weight may provide the least cost solution. With weathering steel hollow structural sections (HSS), it takes less steel to do the same job. Because less steel is required to support a given load, you can save on material costs. Plus, as mentioned above, weathering steel offers savings by eliminating the need for painting and only requiring minimal ongoing maintenance costs.  
  6. Weathering steel is a sustainable solution for bridge construction. The raw materials used in bridge construction and fabrication contribute to the bridge’s environmental footprint, so selecting sustainable materials, like weathering steel, can positively impact the environment. In addition to the fact that steel is the most-recycled material in the world, the high-strength, low-maintenance (no initial painting nor future maintenance painting is required!), and cost-effective benefits that weathering steel offers make it a sustainable solution for bridge construction

Ready to use weathering steel for bridge construction? 

Contact Central Steel for ASTM A847 Hollow Structural Sections

ASTM A847 hollow structural sections are commonly recommended for bridge construction. Central Steel stocks high-strength, corrosion-resistant steel pipe and tube in a variety of sizes. Contact us today to speak with an experienced sales representative about your project.