The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather


    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower


    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships


    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

4 weeks ago

Interstate anniversary showcases Alabama industry

(AlabamaWorks!/Contributed, Wikicommons)

This is the centennial anniversary of a historic trip that changed the American economy.

In a test of military mobility, a cross-country 80-vehicle convoy left Washington, D.C., on July 7, 1919, and 61 days later arrived in San Francisco, California.


Among the 24 officers and 258 enlisted men was Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Years later, he would see the military effectiveness of the German autobahn.

As President in 1956, Eisenhower lobbied for and Congress funded the first projects that eventually grew into the Interstate Highway System, which today carries Eisenhower’s name. It was built to military standards concerning width, height, and weight capacities so that it could rapidly deploy all types of military equipment.

And of course, it transformed interstate commerce and opened up much of the nation for economic development, similar to the advances of the transcontinental railroad a century earlier.

None of this would be possible without iron or steel or without American ironworkers. Iron and steel reinforces the roadbeds and crosses the ravines and rivers making possible this visionary and transforming public works infrastructure.

Despite daunting challenges presented by illegal practices of foreign competitors, America’s iron and steel manufacturing sectors are as robust as ever, and iron and steel remain the bedrock of our transportation and infrastructure systems. Alabama’s iron and steel products are the foundation of our roads, bridges, structural, energy, and water infrastructures, as well as the primary components of many vehicles that Americans drive every day.

The Alabama Iron and Steel Council and Manufacture Alabama are grateful for that propitious 61-day trek and the visionary leadership of Lt. Col. Eisenhower.

Maury D. Gaston is Manager of Marketing Services at AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company in Birmingham, Alabama, and current Chairman of the Alabama Iron & Steel Council (AISC). The AISC operates as an independent industry council of Manufacture Alabama, the state’s only trade association dedicated exclusively to manufacturers and their supplier/vendor partners. AISC member companies include AM/NS Calvert, AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company, CMC Steel, McWane, Inc., Nucor Steel, Outokumpu Stainless USA, SSAB Americas, U.S. Pipe & Foundry, United States Steel, Alabama Power Company, Colburn Construction, Inc., ERP Compliant Coke, OMI-Bisco Refractories, O’Neal Manufacturing Services, Reno Refractories, Southeast Gas and Southern Alloy Corporation.

4 months ago

What’s behind today’s drinking water?

(Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association/Facebook)

This is National Drinking Water Week, a week in which we highlight the essential role of drinking water in our society and economy. But how did we get here?

Municipal water systems are a more recent development than many realize. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, workers and their families moved from rural areas and cities grew to support the factories driving the Industrial Revolution. Many got their water from a well in the backyard and used a nearby outhouse in the same back yard. Waterborne disease was common, and it was not unusual for cities to lose tens of thousands to fevers and other water-borne diseases, especially in hot summers. Visionary leaders in various locales across the country 150 to 120 years ago saw the need and the resultant benefits of municipal water systems.


As a result, clean water is the greatest advancement in public health in the history of the world. We see clean water ministries and initiatives around the world today and they are worthy of our support. We take for granted here in America that our tap has clean and pure water safe to drink, cook, and bathe. And while the price we pay for this precious and necessary component of our lives is moving toward the cost to provide it, it remains the greatest value in our budgets.

When these municipal water systems were built, options were few, and cast iron was the pipe material of choice. With a plethora of contemporary material options today, modern ductile iron continues to be the strongest, most sustainable and most resilient material. It’s made from recycled iron and steel, requires less energy to operate and use, lasts longer and has greater life-cycle value than alternatives. Other pipe materials such as lead, asbestos-cement and PVC have come and some have gone, but iron pipe remains sure and steady as the standard for quality municipal water system construction.

Birmingham, Alabama, is the ductile iron pipe manufacturing capital of America, and the Alabama Iron and Steel Council is proud to salute our ductile iron members and the products they manufacture to build the world’s safest and most sustainable drinking water systems. Iron Pipe: It’s what America is Built On.

Maury D. Gaston is Chairman of the Alabama Iron and Steel Council, a council of Manufacture Alabama. He is a mechanical engineering graduate of Auburn University, 37-year water industry veteran, and Manager of Marketing Services for AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe.