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Federal Highway Administration Awards NCEER Two Grants

The Federal Highway Administration has awarded NCEER two grants to support studies on the vulnerability of federal aid highways, bridges and tunnels to earthquakes. One is to develop retrofit methods for existing highways and bridges throughout the United States, and the other is to develop design requirements for future highway and bridge construction. The objective of these grants is to add significant new knowledge to the database from which revised seismic design and retrofit guidelines for the nation's highways can be prepared. Components to be studied include short- and long-span bridges, tunnels, retaining structures, slopes and embankments.

These studies have been initiated because the present guidelines for the seismic design and retrofit of highway bridges are based on data that is now 10-15 years old. Also, there are no national seismic retrofit standards or seismic design standards for the other components of the highway system such as tunnels and retaining structures. Highway performance during recent earthquakes in California, Costa Rica and the Philippines has also given new insight into the deficiencies of the current state-of-the-art.

A range of studies will therefore be undertaken which includes seismic hazard, foundations and soils, the response of structures and systems, and design issues and criteria review.

The retrofit grant totals $12 million over a six year period. It will be used to study the earthquake risk to the federal highway system and to develop methods to evaluate existing highway systems and cost-effective retrofit technologies to upgrade deficient systems. Fourteen subcontractors will participate in the research project.

The second grant will be used to study the seismic vulnerability of new highways, tunnels and bridges, and will develop technical information from which national guidelines can be prepared for earthquake-resistant construction of future highway systems. Areas to be studied include seismic hazards and spatial variation in ground motion; foundations and soil-structure interaction; soil behavior and liquefaction; ductility requirements and seismic detailing; structural analysis and response; and structure importance and design criteria. This award spans a four year period, involves 10 subcontractors, and totals just over $2 million.

The principal investigator is Dr. Ian G. Buckle, who has considerable experience in bridge and earthquake engineering and is active in several national and state exercises to revise and improve seismic design criteria and retrofit procedures for bridges. The work will be performed by researchers from the following educational institutions and engineering firms: Applied Technology Council (Redwood City), Brigham Young University, Dames and Moore (Oakland), Earth Mechanics, Inc. (Los Angeles), Geomatrix Consultants (San Francisco), Imbsen and Associates (Sacramento), Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University, Modjeski and Masters (Harrisburg, PA), Princeton University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, State University of New York at Buffalo, University of California at Berkeley, University of Nevada at Reno, and the University of Southern California.


NCEER Bulletin, October 1992, Vol. 6, No. 4

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