Recent Advances in Seismic Design and Retrofit of California Bridges

by James E. Roberts, California Dept of Transportation, Sacramento, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Lifeline Earthquake Engineering


This paper describes the damage and lessons learned from the most recent major earthquakes, the resulting bridge seismic design and detailing changes and the seismic retrofit program implemented by the California Department of Transportation after the 1971 San Fernando Earthquake and accelerated after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The goal of the program is to reinforce most of the bridges designed and constructed prior to acquiring the current levels of knowledge of seismic loading and structure response (about 1978) to improve their structural ductility and resistance to the major factors which contributed to damage and collapse in the San Fernando and Loma Prieta events. The program has been executed in two phases. The initial phase, completed in 1988 at a total cost of $54 million, provided reinforcement to superstructures of 1260 bridges by connecting all narrow expansion joint seats with hinge restrainers and anchoring girders and other superstructure elements to the substructure. The $3.4 billion single and multiple column retrofit phase, now under active implementation, is designed to reinforce substructure elements and create ductile members by increasing confinement. A Risk Analysis procedure was developed to prioritize the bridges for seismic upgrading so that highest risk bridges are retrofitted first. Legislation was recently enacted to require the Department of Transportation to also take the lead role in seismically retrofitting all locally owned bridges in the state. Research has been conducted, and is currently underway, at the University of California, San Diego to test and confirm the validity of several proposed design solutions for seismic retrofitting of existing bridge single column bent substructure elements.

Subject Headings: Substructures | Bridge design | Bridge columns | Highway bridges | Highway and road design | Seismic design | Load and resistance factor design | Bridge tests | California | United States

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