Problems with the Bay Bridge demonstrate why "you always pay for a shortcut in the long run."

Posted by scapozzola on 03/15/2012

The Oakland-Bay Bridge currently under construction in San Francisco is being made in China.

Even though U.S. firms wanted to supply the steel needed for the Bay Bridge, California officials chose to hire a Chinese company, Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries.

While the Chinese firm was the lowest bidder, California taxpayers are now paying extra because the imported steel girders proved to be faulty.  As the San Francisco Chronicle has reported, construction of the Bay Bridge has been plagued by delays and cost overruns due to the flawed steel sections imported from China. 

In order to undercut U.S. producers, China’s central government provides its state-owned enterprises, like Shanghai Zhenhua, with massive subsidies.  These subsidies are actionable under world trade law.  China also continues to undervalue its currency, the Yuan, in order to artificially lower export costs.  This currency manipulation violates the commitments that China made when it joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).

When Shanghai Zhenhua offered the lowest bid for the Bay Bridge, they were able to do so because of these practices, which violate world trade law. 

America’s steelmakers utilize the most modern, computerized facilities in the world to produce safe, high quality steel.  As the National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA) has pointed out, U.S. firms did indeed stand ready to supply the steel needed for the Bay Bridge.

The cost overruns resulting from Shanghai Zhenhua’s unsafe steel could have been avoided if California had simply chosen to use reliable, American-made steel

The United States needs to repair a lot of crumbling infrastructure.  If U.S. tax dollars are spent domestically to upgrade aging roads, bridges, and waterworks, they can support America’s manufacturers and their workers.

Read more about the common sense economics of "Buy America" preferences.

Related recent Blogs

@KeepitMadeinUSA on Twitter

  • "We were going to compete, and remain an American manufacturer, and from that time on, we never looked back." 34 min 55 sec ago
  • More buzz for Factory Man, this time from @NewsHour. "It’s the largest employer in town. But it wasn’t & isn’t easy." 1 hour 26 min ago
  • @RossiMachServ How wonderful! We'd love that. 1 hour 28 min ago
  • The U.S. might be a "rising star" in manufacturing, but there's still a lot of work left: 18 hours 41 min ago
  • If the United States wants to maintain its "rising star" manufacturing status, it must do a few key things: 21 hours 49 min ago
  • That's right: the U.S. is a "rising star" in manufacturing. But there's more to do to increase our competitiveness: 23 hours 4 min ago
  • .@BCGPerspectives says the United States is among the "rising stars" in global manufacturing. Here's our take: 23 hours 48 min ago
  • Great @AP Q&A w/ @papergirlmacy on Factory Man: "When I write about economics, I write from the ground up." 1 day 34 min ago
  • RT @RachelBSAAM: If you're attending the #NCSLSummit stop by booth 940 for a one of a kind @KeepitMadeinUSA root beer opener.… 1 day 1 hour ago
  • "China is among several economies whose manufacturing price advantage over the U.S. is eroding..." 1 day 1 hour ago