Post date: Wed, 04/25/2012 - 3:33pm
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It’s not shocking that bridges built without thought to earthquakes wouldn’t make it through a big quake unharmed. More surprising, however, is how much damage even a relatively small earthquake would cause to Oregon’s bridges.

In an exhaustive OTREC project, researcher Peter Dusicka looked at the most common bridge types in the Oregon highway system. Those bridges weren’t just fragile, he found—they were even more fragile than other researchers and technical guidelines had suggested.

Dusicka published his preliminary findings in a draft report last year. The final report, “Bridge Damage Models for Seismic Risk Assessment of Oregon Highway Network,” is out now. Click here to download.

Most Oregon highway bridges were built before the 1980s, when designers started to consider seismic activity. Dusicka set out to see what would happen to the most common bridge type, continuous concrete multi-beam or girder, during quakes of varying degrees.

To find that out, he had to first know how the ground in the Pacific Northwest moves during and earthquake and second, model how the bridge type would react to these motions. Historical and geological evidence show a catastrophic earthquake will occur sooner or later in the region, Dusicka has said, as the Cascadia subduction zone stores up energy that will...

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Post date: Tue, 07/19/2011 - 2:14pm
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A major seismic event is predicted to hit the Oregon Coast any year now, which has transportation planning experts asking, “Is Oregon prepared?”

OTREC seismic expert and Portland State University Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Peter Dusicka recently spoke at a May 13 symposium titled, Next Big Earthquake In Oregon: Are We Ready? Along with five other PSU professors, the Maseeh College-sponsored symposium addressed the state’s preparedness in terms of emergency response and infrastructure. Dusicka’s talk focused on the ability of Oregon’s bridges to perform in a major earthquake.

“We depend on our network of bridges for anything from immediate emergency response to transportation of goods and services,” Dusicka said. “There is no doubt that there is an inventory (of bridges) within Oregon of a certain vintage where we know there will be issues.”

The ability of a bridge to withstand a seismic event can depend on the type of bridge, when it was constructed and how it’s supported in terms of a foundation, Dusicka said. OTREC recently worked with ODOT to examine several hundred bridges in Oregon for seismic deficiency. The most telling trait, Dusicka said, is age.

“Over time, we’ve learned the ways we’ve designed and built bridges are not the best for resisting earthquakes,” Dusicka said. “The challenge with remediation today is, do we have the knowledge to do this effectively, and if we do, do we have the funds to execute...

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Post date: Tue, 03/22/2011 - 2:42pm
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As a student at the University of British Columbia, Peter Dusicka pursued earthquake engineering in part because so few others had taken that path. “I was looking for a way to make a difference and looking for areas within civil engineering that seemed immature,” Dusicka said.

There was too much guesswork as to how well the Pacific Northwest’s transportation network would handle the type of subduction zone earthquakes the region is prone to. Now, thanks in part to Dusicka’s research, we know a lot more.

When it comes to the fragility of Oregon’s transportation system, the recent earthquakes around the Pacific Rim provide more insight into a major quake than do models developed for North America, said Dusicka an OTREC researcher and Portland State University associate professor. “The subduction zone earthquake in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia isn’t a threat anywhere else in the U.S.,” he said.

The recent Japanese quake as well as the one in Chile—both subduction-zone quakes—are more instructive. Subduction-zone quakes tend to be larger magnitude, shake longer and affect a larger geographic area than other earthquakes.

The serious earthquake related damage in Japan probably would have been worse had that country’s leaders not been spurred by the 1995 Kobe earthquake. “The Japanese people and...

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Post date: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 10:00pm
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Faculty from all four OTREC partner campuses participated in the 2008 Northwest Transportation Conference at Oregon State University February 5-7. Under the theme of "Making the Most of What We Have: Innovations for the 21st Century," faculty served as session moderators and as roundtable members for a variety of topics. Portland State University attendees included Jennifer Dill, Peter Dusicka, Miguel Figliozzi, Hau Hagedorn, Chris Monsere, Tony Rufolo, Kristin Tufte and Brent Zenobia. University of Oregon faculty attending were Nico Larco, Marc Schlossberg and Yizhao Yang. Faculty from Oregon State University included Karen Dixon, Chris Higgins, Starr McMullen, Todd Scholz, Michael Scott and Lei Zhang. OTREC Associate Director Roger Lindgren from the Oregon Institute of Technology also attended. More information about the conference and program sessions: NWTC.

Post date: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 12:00am
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The Region X Consortium held its fall meeting in Seattle on October 15-16. Representatives from UTCs (OTREC, AUTC, TransNow, NIATT) and state DOTs (ODOT, WSDOT, ITD) attended the bi-annual meeting to discuss regional collaboration for transportation research and education efforts. Agenda items included further discussion of a Region X Memorandum of Understanding that would allow for pooled-funds with which the Consortium will sponsor major research projects from a regional needs perspective. TransNow hosted the meeting and led discussions on freight, infrastructure, and traffic operation research. Hau Hagedorn gave an OTREC update and faculty participants from Oregon included Chris Monsere and Peter Dusicka from PSU and Chris Higgins and Karen Dixon from OSU.