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Pilot Course on the Seismic Retrofit of Highway Bridges

REU attendees in front of building

Course instructors Ian Buckle (L), Geoff Martin (C) and Richard Nutt (R).

More photos: 1 2 3 4 5 6

About 40 bridge engineers from Oregon, Washington, California, Missouri, South Carolina and New Jersey participated in the Pilot Course on the Seismic Retrofit of Highway Bridges, sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). In addition, four representatives of the Israeli Road Agency attended the course. Hosted by Oregon DOT and presented by MCEER, the course was held December 5-7, 2005 in Portland, Oregon. Material presented was based on the updated “Seismic Retrofitting Manual for Highway Structures: Part 1 – Bridges,” prepared by MCEER and currently under review by FHWA.

The event began with a welcome from Oregon State Bridge Engineer Bruce Johnson. Glenn Smith and Phil Yen, both of FHWA, provided a brief history of the development of bridge design and retrofitting guidelines from FHWA’s perspective and the importance of the updated Retrofit Manual. Jane Stoyle, MCEER, provided MCEER’s perspective on the history of the new Retrofitting Manual and the development of the companion pilot course.

Ian Buckle, University of Nevada-Reno, opened the technical presentations with an overview of the seismic retrofitting process. He primarily spoke about screening, prioritizing and evaluating bridges for retrofit, and served as the lead instructor. Geoffrey Martin, University of Southern California focused on geotechnical issues, and Richard Nutt, structural engineering consultant, presented examples and case studies of retrofitting techniques. All three instructors are primary contributors to the Manual.

The content of the Manual and Course was based on research funded by Caltrans and FHWA, and recent experience in the field. The FHWA research was conducted by MCEER (and under MCEER’s former name, the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research). Ian Buckle is the technical director of this program, which involves about a dozen Principal Investigators, including the above three instructors.

The new edition of the Manual is expected to be available in early 2006. In addition to Part 1 on Bridges, Part 2 covers procedures for evaluating and retrofitting retaining structures, slopes, tunnels, culverts and pavements. This is believed to be the first time that retrofit procedures for these types of geotechnical structures have been published.

Holly Winston of Oregon DOT organized the mechanics of the course, and Peter Dusicka, Portland State University, provided significant logistical support. John O’Fallon, FHWA, is the contracting officer for the project, but unfortunately was unable to attend the workshop.

For more information, contact Jerry O’Connor, MCEER Senior Program Officer, Transportation Research at jso7@buffalo.edu.

The Bulletin is a free publication offering articles on Center research, cooperative ventures, reports from conferences, educational activities, upcoming events, and reviews of new MCEER publications Spring 2006

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