MCEER TO RECEIVE $10.8 MILLION TO STUDY
BUFFALO, N.Y., June 10, 1998-- The Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering
Research (MCEER), headquartered at the University at Buffalo, will receive $10.8
million over the next six years from the U.S. Department of Transportation to apply its
expertise to improving the seismic performance of the nation's surface transportation
system. The funds, allocated under the federal Transportation Equity Act for the 21st
Century, will extend the work begun by MCEER in 1992 under two Federal Highway
Administration contracts that have focused on federal-aid highways, bridges and tunnels.
"With this legislation, Congress recognizes the significant success MCEER has had in
using multidisciplinary teams of experts to study and develop new methods of seismic
protection for our nation's roads and bridges," said UB President William R.
According to George C. Lee, Ph.D., MCEER director, the nation's transportation
system is the world's largest, supporting more than 4.3 trillion miles of passenger travel
and 3.6 trillion ton-miles of goods movement annually. It includes highways, transit
systems, railroads, airports, waterways and ports, and pipelines. "But except for
some of the highway bridges, very little of this vast network has been designed and
constructed with earthquakes in mind," he said. Despite the fact that 39 states have
been identified as having either moderate or significant earthquake risk, he added, there
are no national guidelines or requirements for the seismic design of transportation
systems, other than those developed for highway bridges.
"During the past six years, our concentrated effort to look at better ways to
retrofit highway roads and bridges and other components has been generating very useful
guidelines," Lee said. "Now we will be able to apply these efforts to other
surface transportation facilities in the U.S. Our goal is to develop national
seismic-design methodologies and guidelines for these systems and to determine the most
cost-effective techniques for retrofitting existing ones."
MCEER is a nationwide consortium on earthquake engineering research, headquartered at
the University at Buffalo. Funded principally by the National Science Foundation (NSF),
the state of New York and the Federal Highway Administration, the center was established
by the NSF in 1986 as the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research. The
center's mission is to reduce earthquake losses through research and the application of
advanced technologies that improve engineering, pre-earthquake planning and
post-earthquake recovery strategies.