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MCEER Bulletin, Volume 21, Number 2, Summer 2007

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Volume 21, Number 2, Summer 2007

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Highway Project Focuses on Accelerated
Bridge Construction and Innovative Seismic Protection Technologies

shots of prefabricated bridge under construction

Use of prefabricated segmental construction is one way to accelerate bridge construction. Here, hinge pipe beams at mid-span expansion joints are being incorporated in the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge

In May 2007, MCEER began work on a new Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funded research contract entitled “Innovative Technologies and Their Applications to Enhance the Seismic Performance of Highway Bridges.” George C. Lee is the principal investigator and project director and Jerry O’Connor is the project manager. The project has a four year period with funding not to exceed $3.9 million.

Over the past few years, accelerated bridge construction (ABC) has demonstrated significant time savings and other benefits and has become a key component of FHWA’s vision of the nation’s transportation system. However, there are no design procedures or guidelines for ABC in seismically active states. MCEER’s research work will principally focus on the development of seismic design guidelines for prefabricated reinforced concrete and segmentally constructed highway bridges of short to medium span length. Analytical and experimental work will be carried out with the objective of formulating design guidelines for practical applications so that all states can benefit from the use of ABC.

In addition, this project will continue FHWA’s past efforts to enhance the seismic performance of highway structures by providing for the evaluation of existing types of seismic isolation bearings over time and under various service conditions, preparing for the deployment of a new generation of bridge bearing that was developed under a previous FHWA research contract, and exploring the concept of using a structural fuse to protect bridges from extensive damage in the event of an earthquake. Specific design guidance for using roller isolation bridge bearings will be developed and support given for implementation on actual bridge projects.

In addition to the research, several national and international seismic conferences and workshops on bridges and highways are planned. A Highway Seismic Advisory Panel (HSAP) will be established in the near future to provide technical input and advice to FHWA and to help ensure that the research products are useful, practical and implementable.

More on MCEER’s highway research