Shake It Up (Available in Structural Engineering Special Issue Only)

by James E. Roberts, (F.ASCE), Dir. of Engrg. Services and Chf, Struct. Engr.; California Dept. of Transp., Sacramento, CA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1998, Vol. 68, Issue 8, Pg. 9A-12A

Document Type: Feature article


The California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) has used structural lightweight concrete for more than 45 years in bridges across the state. Lightweight concrete�made with aggregates such as expanded shale or industrial cinders, which are lighter than traditional aggregates�reduce dead load on bridges, increasing the safety of the structures during seismic events. California seismic building codes have been updated in recent years, however, prompting CALTRANS to reexamine the performance characteristics of structural lightweight concrete in a series of tests performed at the University of California-San Diego. The test results showed that structural lightweight concrete performed as well as normal weight concrete except in shear strength. The material is still appropriate for use anywhere dead load is a design consideration, according to CALTRANS, which is planning to use the material in the construction of three new bridges in the seismically active San Francisco Bay area.

Subject Headings: Seismic tests | Seismic loads | Lightweight concrete | Concrete structures | Structural concrete | Construction materials | Structural safety

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