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Port expanding steel capacity with $7 million project
Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 6:10 PM Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 7:48 PM
A few days ago, port officials closed Pier C North, on the north end of the port's Mobile River properties, which had traditionally been the port's main steel terminal.
Workers will demolish the current concrete slab and take out unused road and rail spurs at the base of it, then completely resurface the pier, said Jimmy Lyons, the authority's executive director.
The end result will be about 15-20 percent more outside storage space for steel beams, hot rolled coils and plates, Lyons said.
The project reflects the port's growing steel presence. In the first four months of this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, the port handled nearly 1.5 million tons of iron and steel, compared to 780,000 tons over the same time period the year before.
Much of that has to do with ThyssenKrupp AG, the German steel giant that built a $5 billion mill in north Mobile County. The carbon steel side of the mill process slabs that are shipped through the Port's Pinto Island Terminal.
But it's not just import slabs driving the increased steel trade, Lyons said. ThyssenKrupp is also sending finished steel back out to foreign customers, and other steelmakers in the region are doing the same as a weak dollar and greater economic strength abroad make American steel more attractive.
Army building 'new' Kiowa helicopters in Madison County
Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 6:25 PM Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 6:27 PM
MERIDIANVILLE, Alabama - On a Kiowa helicopter stripped to its skeleton in a hangar at Madison County Executive Airport rests the future of one of the Army's busiest aircraft.
The Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center on Redstone Arsenal operates a Prototype Integration Facility here. This is where a team of contractors and Army engineers is developing a kind of technology transplant to keep aging OH-58D Kiowa Warriors serving troops through 2025.
Officials said today the project involves 27 local government agencies and private companies and will push about $32 million into the area economy in 2012 alone. It's also the first time the Army - not a contractor - is acting as the Lead Systems Integrator, overseeing and pulling together a mix of all-new systems created by the PIF and technology from original equipment manufacturers.
They took on that responsibility for a number of reasons, said Maj. Gen. William "Tim" Crosby, Program Executive Officer-Aviation, based on the arsenal.
"It maintains and builds that experience level within our government workforce, but it also reduces the cost. Because now we're doing it, we own the (technical) data package, we own all of those things that we normally pay the contractor for," he said. And that's important in an austere budget environment.
Crosby emphasized that contractors like Bell Helicopter, the original maker of the Kiowa, are and have been great partners, he said. "And part of my responsibility as a PEO is to manage the industrial base of rotary wing in this country."
But the Kiowa production line was shut down in 1999 and you can't just order up a new one off the shelf, he said. In any case, the scope of this upgrade wouldn't justify the cost of new ones as the Army decides on the future of its Armed Scout Helicopter program.
Alabama's Boyd Brothers unveils innovation that could revolutionize flatbed trucking
Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 5:00 PM Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 5:26 PM
By Michael Tomberlin -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- A new innovation pushed by Clayton-based Boyd Brothers Transportation was unveiled to the public at its Birmingham terminal today and called "revolutionary" for its ability to get the flatbed trucking industry into the growing intermodal rail shipping game.
The new deck converts flatbed industrial cargo from over-the-road truck trailers to intermodal rail previously reserved for large, enclosed shipping containers.
It was developed over the last two years by Boyd Brothers, a flatbed shipper, and a Canadian company, Raildecks Intermodal, with the help of BNSF Railway. After several prototypes and 240 loads successfully shipped, the new innovation is ready for widespread use.
"Today is a big day in the transportation industry," Chris Cooper, chief operations officer with Boyd Brothers, told a crowd at today's unveiling. "This has never been done until now. Very rarely do we see products that have the potential to really change an industry."
The truck trailer decks are built in Jasper through a contract with Fontaine Trailer Co. Boyd Brothers officials said they hope to have 60 of them in operation in the next couple of months and Raildecks hopes to have as many as 500 produced by the end of this year.
The new operations will fall under Boyd Intermodal, a new division created at the company as part of its Boyd International group.
Gail Cooper, chief executive of Boyd Brothers, said the new shipping deck should cut down on the number of miles trucks travel on the road and replace that with rail, but it will never eliminate the need for trucks and truck drivers to get products from the rail yard to the customer.
more... Birmingham News
AT&T reports it invested $1.3 billion in Alabama between 2009 and 2011
Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 7:50 AM
By Michael Tomberlin -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
AT&T Inc. reports it invested $1.3 billion in Alabama, including more than $700 million in Birmingham, between 2009 and 2011.
The telecommunications giant said the investment was in both its wireless and wireline networks, with the focus on improving the company's mobile broadband coverage and the overall performance of its networks.
During 2011, AT&T said it made more than 1,700 wireless network upgrades in Alabama, activating nearly 60 new cell sites, deploying faster fiber-optic connections to nearly 525 cell sites to enable 4G speeds, adding capacity to cell sites and upgrading nearly 325 cell sites alone to provide fast mobile broadband speeds for customers in businesses in less-populated but growing areas.
The company didn't provide a figure for its Alabama investment in 2011.
"Our goal is to deliver a network experience that mobilizes everything for customers," said Fred McCallum, president of AT&T Alabama. "A lot of credit goes to the lawmakers in Alabama who have made sure our laws keep pace with rapidly changing technology."
Last year, Dallas-based AT&T said it completed 150,000 network enhancements across the country -- more than triple what it did the year before -- adding capacity and faster speeds and improving 3G dropped-call performance by 25 percent.
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