DETROIT – The first piece of structural steel was put into place Tuesday at the new Fiat Chrysler Automobiles assembly plant on Detroit's east side.
Work is quickly moving on the project, which is expected to bring thousands of jobs to the city.
Crews are taking the two old engine plants that have been at the site for 100 years and turning them into an assembly plant.
The I-beam put in place Tuesday was the first of 299 vertical plant shop beams.
"It just shows FCA is going to be here forever," FCA paint facilities Chief John Powell said.
Iron workers ritually sign the first rib. They're also quickly moving so FCA can start building three-row Jeeps and Grand Cherokees by the end of next year.
"It shows Detroit is the automotive capital of the world and we're still building assembly plants," Powell said.
New assembly plants are a vast improvement over the old. It's intentionally environmentally friendly, collecting all the rainwater runoff.
"One of the things Chrysler wants to do is fit more easily into the neighborhood, so they're putting a wall up here as a sound barrier," Powell said. "They're also putting ivy and the like on it to soften it up. It's 10 feet here, but as you get to the marshalling yard, it will be 18 feet high."
"There's a lot we're doing on the paint shop to control emissions and be one of the least polluting paint shops in the country," project manager Eric Goedtel said.
In the end, the new plant will have the lowest emissions of any auto plant in the country -- about half the amount of the next-door Jefferson North Plant, officials said.