The major earthquake that “struck” a 70-ton, 60-foot-long concrete bridge on Tuesday in UB’s Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory will help engineers evaluate if a fast, new construction method results in bridges strong enough to withstand seismic activity.
The test, conducted by earthquake engineers in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering and MCEER (formerly the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research), was the largest earthquake—simulated or otherwise—to hit a bridge constructed using the rapid and cost-effective method called Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC).
The project is funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
The results could usher in a new era in bridge construction for seismic areas, such as California.
Data from the UB-MCEER tests will be used by FHWA to begin to develop standards for getting the best performance from ABC in seismically active areas.
Tuesday’s two tests were conducted on the half-scale bridge, which had been erected across UB’s twin shake tables.
The Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory, with its twin, relocatable shake tables, is one of the few places in the world that could perform this kind of test. It demonstrates the unique ability of UB and MCEER to develop and evaluate technological innovations that are increasingly critical in addressing the nation’s aging infrastructure—especially advances that can save time and money.