Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Making an earthquake-tough bridge.

I am currently watching a show on the Science Channel on re-building and re-engineering the east span of the Bay Bridge in California. This is absolutely brilliant. California is prone to earthquakes, since it lies on the San Andres Fault, and in 1989, an earthquake caused part of the Bay Bridge to collapse. It was fixed, but the bridge would potentially have the same problem during future earthquakes, so engineers have been working to rebuild this bridge to last throughout earthquake. It's a single-tower, self anchored suspension bridge, meaning it anchors into the road deck, rather than anchor into the ground. This has never been done before and it is absolutely amazing. There are special "pins" in certain parts of, if I recall correctly, the horizontal road deck as well that allow it to sway up to three feet during an earthquake, to prevent the road from collapsing. This is an absolutely beautiful example of engineering that incorporates so many disciplines of the field. This aired on an episode of Build It Bigger on the Science Channel.

Bay Bridge

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