A recent New York Times article reported on the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge project.

Caltrans originally outsourced the steel fabrication portion of this project in an attempt to reduce costs and save time. However, the project is now $5.2 billion over budget, and the Chinese steel was delivered more than a year behind schedule (to date, the total project is more than three years behind schedule).

Additionally, California exported more than 2,500 manufacturing jobs to China, and then used tax dollars to pay more than 250 public and private employees to go to China to provide training. Essentially, at a time of rising unemployment, California provided the training and funding to make Chinese workers more competitive.

Finally, it is surprising that the environment wasn’t even mentioned in this article, given California’s role as a green leader in the United States.

According to a 2009 assessment of environmental regulation of the Chinese steel industry, recent data show that one quarter of the particulate matter in the air in Los Angeles on some days originates in China.

Our industry would be extremely concerned if every effort was not made to source the steel for U.S. transportation projects from U.S. producers and fabricators, especially in this difficult economic period. In my view, it would be an outrageous abuse of taxpayer funds if they are used to support the steel industry overseas when we could be providing jobs for our citizens.

There is no need to seek a foreign option for a product that is routinely and efficiently produced at home at very high quality.

Butch McKee

district sales manager for metal building manufacturer

Baton Rouge