Alaska Grown vs Made In China
The past two budgets have included $84 million for a bridge…to somewhere in Alaska. Senators Wielechowski and French have written a letter to the Alaska Railroad with some concerns.
ANCHORAGE- Today, Senators Bill Wielechowski and Hollis French are calling on Alaska Railroad officials to ensure steel products made only in America are used to build a bridge over the Tanana River near Salcha. The Senators say numerous constituents have recently contacted them, concerned that the Alaska Railroad Corporation is considering using foreign steel on the massive project.
“Alaskan funds should be used for Alaskan and American jobs and goods,” said Senator Wielechowski, D-Anchorage. “This is one of the reasons the U.S. is having a jobless recovery. We are shipping good-paying jobs overseas.”
Reports have also called the quality of foreign steel into question. “There is no question that high quality, reasonably priced steel can be purchased domestically,” said Senator French, D-Anchorage. “In a challenging environment like the Tanana River area, it is critical to have the best quality product we can get.”
Over the past two years, Alaskan lawmakers approved $84 million towards building the Tanana River Bridge, with the federal government adding another $104 million. The bridge project, which is a major milestone in extending the railroad line to Delta Junction, will not only give the military better access to training ranges for U.S. troops, but will also promote economic development in Alaska.
“I am a staunch supporter of investing in America and our workforce, particularly when public funds are being used,”said Senator Wielechowski. “I urge the Railroad to do all it can to ensure that the 7,500 tons of steel needed are purchased in America, creating jobs and supporting our domestic economy.”
There are multiple reasons for concern including inferior products being used on such an important project, jobs and labor practices. From Kiplinger:
Steel imports from China that fall apart easily are making U.S. manufacturers and constructions firms more than a little nervous. Reports of failures during initial fabrication and questions about certification documents will mean closer scrutiny. The American and Canadian institutes of steel construction have already advised member companies to be vigilant and report any problems.
The biggest concern is hollow structural sections widely used in construction of skyscrapers, bridges, pipelines, office, commercial and school buildings. This high-strength steel is also commonly used in power lifts, cranes, farm equipment, furniture and car trailer hitches.
Jobs. Paying people in another country at 2% of the labor costs, doesn’t help Alaskans pay their power bills.