The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

In a controversial move last week, San Francisco placed warning signs on buildings that violate San Francisco’s seismic safety laws. The large signs, written in multiple languages and displaying drawings of destroyed buildings, were posted on and around buildings to notify potential occupants that the building’s owners have not retrofitted the structure. While many agree that something must be done to convince building owners to upgrade unsafe structures, some feel that publicly “shaming” the buildings and its owners is not the smartest way to achieve the city’s goal. Berkeley tried something similar to what San Francisco is doing back in 2005. They placed warning signs on at-risk buildings and required owners to send letters to their tenants about the building being in danger if an earthquake hit.  Of the 239 buildings targeted by Berkeley, 100 owners voluntarily retrofitted their structures while the city had to pass a law to get the other 139 buildings retrofitted. San Francisco is going further than any other California city has in the past to notify the public by placing larger signs on more buildings.

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  • Date occured Thursday, 18 September 2014

An earthquake-detection system developed by the University of California Berkeley’s Seismological Laboratory performed well during the recent earthquake that struck the Napa Valley region on August 24. The system was able to produce a warning message 10 seconds before the magnitude-6 temblor struck. "It was definitely a great proof-positive that the system works just like we'd hoped," says Jennifer Strauss, the lab's external relations officer. "One of the things the Napa quake did show us is you need to make sure there are enough sensors," says Strauss. One member of the lab even stated the warning could have gone out 2.5 seconds earlier had the lab received more funding to install more sensors in the area. California unanimously passed a bill last year that would create a state-wide early detection system. Funding for such project, however, has yet to be found.

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  • Date occured Monday, 08 September 2014

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system expansion project is a full year ahead of schedule due to a lack of rain over the last two years. The $3.2 billion project will extend the line by 16 miles from the San Francisco, California area to southern Freemont, Milpitas, and San Jose. The extension to Beerysea was supposed to be finished in 2018, but now Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) officials expect it to be completed by late 2017.

Thursday, 19 December 2013 13:46

Bay Bridge Fix Complete

The $25 million fix for the broken rods on the Bay Bridge’s east span was finally finished last week.  After only being in place for two weeks in March, 32 of the 96 galvanized steel rods used to hold down large seismic stabilizers on the east span snapped.  Caltrans determined the failure was caused by hydrogen that was able to penetrate the rods when they were standing in hydrogen rain-rich rainwater over a five-year period. 

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  • Date occured Thursday, 12 December 2013
Monday, 18 November 2013 12:56

Old Bay Bridge Demolition Underway

Workers began tearing down the east span of the old Bay Bridge on Tuesday, nearly two months after the new bridge opened.  The demolition of the old bridge is expected to be a long, tedious process.  Construction workers will have to dismantle the bridge piece by piece.  According to one of the California Department of Transportation’s bridge engineers,  “the old bridge is the world’s largest armed bow and arrow. We have to de-string it very carefully or it will go boom.”  The $281 million demolition project is expected to take three years to complete.  This cost was already incorporated into the $6.4 billion price tag for the new bridge.  The 1.97 mile long east span opened in 1936 and is made of almost 59,000 tons of steel and 245,000 tons of concrete.  The majority of the steel will be recycled or reused, but some will be saved for a new park commemorating the old bridge.  The following link contains a great slideshow of construction crews beginning the demolition of  the bridge.

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  • Date occured Tuesday, 12 November 2013
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