Steel fabrication delays causing road projects to stall in Chemung County

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — Supply chain delays have plagued all industries from construction to retail stores since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March of 2020. After several delays, Chemung County is hopeful to receive steel materials to complete several road projects next year, including the Lowman Crossover Bridge.

Residents have traveled around the bridge since April 2021. Originally, the road was supposed to reopen in August; however, steel delays caused the project to stall as workers waited for the new beams to arrive. After ordering the product in February 2021, Chemung County Public Works Director Andy Avery said the delay was not caused by a raw materials shortage, it was in part due to a manufacturing slowdown potentially caused by a worker shortage.

“The biggest issue is the fabrication of the raw material into beams and girders that we can use in our bridge projects,” Avery said.

CNBC reported that demand for steel dropped at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, but as construction resumed, it rapidly increased. Steel prices surged 300 percent above their pre-pandemic levels to more than $1,900 per ton. Prior to the pandemic, prices average between $500 and $800 dollars per ton.

Not only have construction projects been limited, but also manufacturing of appliances and vehicles has been delayed.

Moving forward, Avery expects the steel supply chain problems to decrease, which will allow for the timely completion of road projects. In 2022, Chemung County will begin smaller construction on the Pennsylvania Ave.; however, this project will not require new steel beams, just steel repair.

The Horseheads Connector Road will also feature a steel bridge, but because that is a two-year project, Avery hopes the construction team will be able to place steel orders early enough that it will not be delayed. Finally, the Lattabrook Road bridge over I-86 will begin construction in 2024, but Avery is not expecting to be facing severe shortages as seen in 2021.

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