Building a Sustainable Future for America’s Infrastructure

By Dan Snyder

The American Iron and Steel Institute’s (AISI) construction program is dedicated to providing resilient and sustainable steel-based solutions designed to meet the needs of the United States construction market. AISI’s membership consists of forward-thinking steel-producing companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers reflecting the production of both carbon and stainless steels, in addition to a diverse array of steel construction industry partners. The program’s current focus is on delivering sustainable solutions for the bridge and renewable energy markets.

In 2021, Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, a once-in-a-generation investment to fix the nation’s infrastructure. The law directs nearly $40 billion over five years to repair or replace as many as 15,000 bridges, with states required to use at least 15% of this new money to build off-system bridges. There are over 281,000 off-system bridges in the U.S., all locally owned and typically under 100 feet in length, known as short-span bridges. 

The (construction) program’s current focus is on delivering sustainable solutions for the bridge and renewable energy markets.”

To assist bridge owners and designers with the cost-effective design, fabrication and construction of short-span bridges, the AISI in 2007 established the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance (SSSBA). This group consists of over 100 bridge and buried soil steel structure industry stakeholders who have joined together to assist state and local government officials on the design and construction of short-span steel bridges for installations of up to 140 feet in length.

The SSSBA offers a variety of tools and educational resources on the safe and cost-effective design, detail, fabrication and installation of short-span steel bridges. Over the past 10 years, nearly 20,000 bridge owners and designers have learned about the cost and time advantages of short-span steel bridges in SSSBA-led workshops and conferences throughout the U.S.

The SSSBA also offers a free design tool called eSPAN140. The web-based tool provides simple-span and modular designs for short-span steel bridges in less than five minutes, allowing bridge owners and designers to compare steel and concrete structures and make informed choices. 

The AISI construction program also leads three research-oriented committees aimed at identifying present and future design challenges, pioneering new technologies and promoting best practices for steel bridges. The Steel Bridge Task Force, the Corrosion Advisory Group and the Welding Advisory Group have made significant contributions over the years to advance steel bridge design and construction. These groups coordinate research that promotes safe, cost-effective steel bridges – including by providing justifications for revisions to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials design codes.

More recently, AISI established a renewable energy initiative to explore how the steel construction program can benefit the solar, wind, electrical transmission and related markets. Steel’s combination of strength, durability, design flexibility and cost-effectiveness provide the optimal material for the construction of renewable energy products. 

Steel’s attributes, including its inherent durability and recyclability, make it vital to modern society and necessary for rebuilding America’s infrastructure. Visit and to learn more. 

Dan Snyder is the vice president of the construction program at AISI.

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