Building a Seismic-Ready Bridge – Part 1: Design Strategy

Southern California is earthquake country. Small and moderate quakes occur every year, and larger ones are predicted during the 100-year lifespan of the new bridge.

Given the importance of the Port of Long Beach to the U.S. economy, the goal is to keep goods moving after a large earthquake. The new bridge is designed so that such an earthquake will cause little to no damage to the bridge structure, and it will reopen quickly to trucks and cars.

Akin to high-rises in downtown Los Angeles, the new bridge is designed to move with the ground. It will include elastic “points of isolation” that enable various segments of the bridge to move independently without causing significant damage, as well as “fuses” that are designed to deliberately burst under sufficient seismic energy to protect the bridge’s primary superstructure.

Over the next several weeks, we will take a deeper dive into the advanced seismic features and design built into the new bridge that will ensure it withstands stronger quakes and returns to operations within days.