UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Caltrans awards $2.25 million to UC Berkeley-based center to study seismic safety of transportation systems

– In an effort to improve the seismic safety and reliability of California's highway system, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has awarded $2.25 million to the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER), headquartered at the University of California, Berkeley.

"Modern bridge seismic design relies on computer analyses of how the bridge will move during future earthquakes," said Jack Moehle, UC Berkeley professor of civil engineering, director of PEER, and principal investigator of the grant. "A major aim of our study will be to incorporate data and knowledge from recent strong earthquakes to develop improved procedures for selecting ground motion for design studies. The procedures will be applicable to new bridge designs as well as retrofits of existing hazardous construction."

Moehle pointed out that increasingly sophisticated technology is enabling researchers to better predict how structures will perform in earthquakes.

The five-year grant from Caltrans will support multi-disciplinary studies that bring together geologists, seismologists and geotechnical and structural engineers from academia, private industry and government agencies.

"Research projects will focus on ground motion, response of soil during severe ground shaking and the seismic performance and reliability of bridges and highway systems during an earthquake," said Yousef Bozorgnia, associate director of PEER and co-principal investigator of the grant. "There has been some research in this area already, but there are still more challenges ahead of us."

The PEER Center is a National Science Foundation earthquake engineering research center supported by federal, state and private industry funding. In addition to UC Berkeley, the center consists of eight other core institutions: the California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego, the University of Southern California and the University of Washington.

The researchers note that the results of their studies on transportation systems will be applicable to safer designs of buildings, water lines and electrical systems.