- Infrastructure design imperatives have evolved from survivability to resilience as part of the Alaskan Way Viaduct project in Seattle, where a bridge at the south end of the tunnel is being touted as nearly earthquake-proof, according to KING 5.
- Use of nickel-titanium alloy "memory" rebar and small-batch concrete imbedded with polyvinyl fibers allows bridge column joints to bend and stretch during a seismic event, then return to their original position without losing structural integrity.
- The bridge is designed to be traffic-ready following a major seismic event, and the technology could be applied to retrofit projects and seismic upgrades for improved infrastructure resilience.
Infrastructure resilience has become a core component of managing both extreme weather and seismic events. Even as green building has made significant strides to reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment, focus has shifted from sustainability and survivability to resiliency and the ability of infrastructure to bounce back and be operational soon after a storm or earthquake.
Claiming any infrastructure project is extreme weather-proof or earthquake-proof is a bit dicey given the increase in frequency and severity of global climate events, but the project team at the Alaskan Way Viaduct seems to think they’re close, with Washington State Department of Transportation head of bridge and structures Tom Baker pointing to a near future where bridges could be designed for no damage at all during a seismic event.
Another group exploring resiliency in buildings is at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where researchers have developed a computational model for analyzing noise transmissions and vibrations in the surrounding environment to measure building damage or structural stress. The technology could be used to pinpoint damage to or weakness in a structure following an earthquake or other significant seismic impact.