BRIDGE ENGINEERING: New research implemented in Seattle bridge construction

May 17, 2016

Innovative bridge designed to withstand impact of earthquakes and remain usable

Mehdi "Saiid" Saiidi, Foundation Professor of civil and environmental engineering in the University of Nevada, Reno's College of Engineering, is leading something of a revolution in the field of earthquake engineering for bridges.

For years, bridges in seismically active zones have been designed with the primary goal of saving lives in the event of an earthquake. As a result, bridges were designed to withstand collapse, but were generally unusable after an earthquake, hampering rescue and recovery efforts by taking out key transportation infrastructure. Using innovative materials such as nickel titanium and rubber, reinforced polymers, Saiidi designed a bridge that tests have shown can withstand severe shaking and still be usable.

With funding from the Federal Highway Administration's Innovative Bridge Research and Deployment program, Saiidi's research results are being implemented in a showcase-bridge under construction in downtown Seattle and slated for completion in 2016. The project is receiving considerable attention from the construction industry around the world.

Saiidi is pleased and surprised at how quickly new materials have been embraced in the engineering community.

A number of agencies have supported Saiidi's continued research, including the National Science Foundation, National Cooperative Highway Research Program, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation and the Department of Transportation in the states of California, Nevada and Washington.

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