State in need of steel

GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- If part of the US-31 overpass that was damaged Monday by a semi truck needs to be replaced, it could take up to a year.

The state is blaming the high demand for steel.

Who knew one little bump in the road could possibly cause a big headache for thousands of drivers. The southbound lane of the US-31 overpass could stay closed for up to a year if MDOT has to replace it. That's because of the Tappan Zee Bridge project in New York and the Ohio River Bridges Project on the Kentucky/Indiana border. MDOT Southwest Region spokesman Nick Schirripa says the two bridges are eating up the nation's supply of steel. When finished, he says the bridges, worth a combined $8 billion, will be among the largest in the nation.

In the meantime, Michigan drivers may notice some of their bridge and roads projects aren't making progress. Schirripa says the US-131 stadium bridge near Kalamazoo and a two-year reconstruction project near Flint are among those delayed because MDOT didn't order its steel early enough.

The project near Flint is to reconstruct I-69 from I-475 to M-15. Work was supposed to start in April but will be pushed back until this fall or Spring 2015.

"I think what's happening with steel is just a little lead time. So there's a supply and demand issue," said Wayne Visbeen with Visbeen Architects.

Sometimes it's easier to plan ahead when you're building a steel Chapel at Cornerstone University. Christman Construction ordered the steel 12 weeks in advance, and only had to pay the going price.

But project architect Visbeen knows of others waiting and paying more.

"Talking with the manufactures and fabricators there just saying they're adding two to three weeks in lead time on most steel that the price has increased from 14 to 16 percent," he said.

The steel was worth the wait for Visbeen and the construction crew, who swapped it out for the original plan of wooden beams.

"The effect was giving the steel structure that radial pattern. They're crossing in the center from all four corners, making a very dramatic interior," he said. "This steel...just gives you this sense of worship and closeness to God when you're in the space."

Dan LaMore with Christman Construction in Grand Rapids says people are finally starting to build again, so builders can be more selective and charge more for certain projects.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment