Washington, D.C. — The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) has joined with several other organizations to participate in Infrastructure Week 2014, a national outreach event being held May 12-16, 2014, to build awareness and educate policymakers and citizens about the infrastructure challenges in the United States. If such challenges are not rapidly solved in a long-term, strategic way, they will have enormous implications on America’s economic prosperity, jobs and competitiveness.

Infrastructure Week 2014 is being organized by the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, Building America’s Future and the National Association of Manufacturers. Events organized throughout the week will focus on the consequences of inaction and the importance of interconnected infrastructure that provides a safe, secure and competitive climate for business corporations nationwide. For more information, visit www.infrastructureweek2014.com.

As part of the week’s activities, the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance (SSSBA) will be hosting a free webinar for bridge engineers and designers on Tuesday, May 13, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EDT, titled Economical Design Tools and Cost Analysis of Short Span Steel Bridges. The webinar will be presented by Michael G. Barker, Ph.D., P.E., of the University of Wyoming. Dr. Barker is one of the developers of eSPAN140, a free, web-based tool that produces standardized preliminary short span steel bridge designs in three easy steps and less than five minutes. Launched in 2012, eSPAN140 is saving significant time, design and construction costs on steel short span bridges of 140 feet or less.  The Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), a business unit of AISI, is a founding member of the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance.

Robert J. Wills, P.E., vice president of construction market for SMDI, commented on ways that the North American steel industry is providing cost-effective, accelerated design solutions to meet critical infrastructure demands. “The vast majority of our nation’s structurally deficient bridges are locally owned. The free design tool eSPAN140 was developed through a collaborative effort of steel producers, fabricators, service centers, coaters, researchers, and representatives of related associations and government organizations to provide steel solutions for county and state engineers and other bridge professionals who have a significant number of short span bridges to repair or replace, but lack the funding to get the job done,” he said.

Buchanan (IA) County Engineer Brian Keierleber, P.E., who recently completed a demonstration project with eSPAN140, commented: “eSPAN140 was very easy to use — we just input the values for span length, width, overhang and the number of striped traffic lanes — and received standardized designs based on these parameters, saving us significant time and costs in the design process. We also saved over 50 percent on the cost of the bridge for local taxpayers. I will use eSPAN140 again in the future.”

Examples of ways that the steel industry is investing in new designs that promote efficiencies in fabrication and other innovations can be found at www.shortspansteelbridges.org.