Engineering Liabilities for Design of a Bridge That Failed During the San Fernando Earthquake

by Irwin Schulman, DOT, Los Angeles, CA, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Lifeline Earthquake Engineering: Performance, Design and Construction


On February 9, 1971, the San Fernando Valley in Southern California experienced a major earthquake. Among the victims were two men who were killed when a bridge connector ramp of a newly constructed freeway interchange collapsed. The heirs sued the State of California, alleging that the highway was in a dangerous condition because the seismic design provisions in effect for bridges at the time when the bridge was designed failed to incorporate the most recent aseismic design practices. The State defended itself by presenting evidence that the structure was built in accordance with reasonably approved engineering plans and standards. The State successfully defended the use of these design criteria.

Subject Headings: Bridge design | Liability | Seismic design | Bridge failures | Earthquakes | Concrete bridges | Highway bridges | Load and resistance factor design | California | United States

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