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MCEER Bulletin, Volume 21, Number 1, Spring 2007

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Volume 21, Number 1, Spring 2007

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Fifth National Seismic Conference on Bridges and Highways Focuses on Innovations in Earthquake Engineering


Bob Tanaka, left, and Jerry O’Connor on the technical boat tour of San Francisco area bridges

Nearly 500 transportation professionals from eleven countries and 36 states attended the Fifth National Seismic Conference on Bridges and Highways, held September 18-20, 2006 in San Francisco, California. The biennial conference was organized by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the Transportation Research Board and MCEER. Myint Lwin, Director, Office of Bridge Technology, FHWA and Rick Land, Chief Engineer, Caltrans, were honorary co-chairs.


Roy Imbsen was one of over 20 researchers participating in the poster session

Under the theme Innovations in Earthquake Engineering for Highway Structures, the conference featured prominent international leaders in both academia and industry as keynote speakers. Invited speakers included Rick Land, Myint Lwin, Kazuhiko Kawashima, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Lichu Fan, Tongjii University, T.J. Zhu, Buckland and Taylor, Ltd., Lars Hauge, COWI, K.C. Chang, National Taiwan University, Charles Seim, Consulting Bridge Engineer, and Roy Imbsen, Imbsen Consulting.

The conference program included over 60 technical papers and more than 20 posters on topics related to improving the seismic safety of the US highway system, including seismic risk assessment of highway networks, lessons learned from recent earthquakes, design and analysis of major bridges, foundations and geotechnical considerations, and several others. In addition, there was an open discussion panel on multiple hazard design, and a full-day Seismic Retrofit Workshop held the day before the conference.


The exhibit area was crowded during breaks, where participants could learn more about products and support services

Other program highlights included two best paper awards, given in memory of James Cooper, a champion of seismic safety at FHWA, and James Roberts, who had a long and distinguished career with Caltrans. Stephen Mahin, UC California, Berkeley and his co-authors received the James Cooper award for “Use of Partially Prestressed Reinforced Concrete Columns to Reduce Post Earthquake Residual Displacements of Bridges,” the paper judged to have the greatest potential impact, contribution to society and best overall quality. The James Roberts award, given for work containing a deployable research innovation expected to have a significant impact on the practice of the bridge engineering profession, went to Brian Chiou of Caltrans and his team for “An Overview of the Project of Next Generation of Ground Motion Attenuation Models for Shallow Crustal Earthquakes in Active Tectonic Regions.”

More than 20 companies showcased their products and services in the exhibit area, and support from platinum level sponsors, HNTB, Parsons Brinkerhoff, T.Y. Lin International, Washington Group International and the University Transportation Center at the University of Missouri-Rolla, helped make the conference enjoyable and technically comprehensive. A post-conference technical boat tour arranged by Caltrans took 100 participants to the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge project, which features a segmental concrete bridge and a self anchored suspension span, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Richmond - San Rafael Bridge, and the Carquinez Straits Bridge.

Visit the conference web page for more information and to order the conference proceedings.