Seismologists are currently working on the system but need $38 million to install enough sensors to deliver early reporting on imminent earthquake activity. The Bay Area Rapid Transit, in San Francisco, already uses the system to help prevent derailments due to tremors.
Proponents of funding the system said if the current $10 million federal disbursement is discontinued, the program will stop despite the fact that it also receives funding from the state of California. The state decided to help fund the initiative after Congress made its original commitment in 2016.
Early warning systems don't affect how buildings perform during earthquakes or seismic events. Structural engineer Kelly Cobeen, associate principal at Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates told Construction Dive in May 2016 that the Long Beach, CA, earthquake in 1933, got the ball rolling toward seismic regulation reform in California, which has become a resource and model for the rest of the world as far as building codes are concerned.
Cobeen said that, as time has gone on, engineers and building experts have identified more earthquake-resistant building designs that are "less brittle, more ductile and more resilient."
Anton Greenville, senior vice president of Balfour Beatty Construction, said that because of stricter seismic building codes in California, state residents should find comfort in the knowledge that new buildings are built to withstand major earthquakes.
Research into new materials is helping buildings and other infrastructure stand up to earthquakes and require less repair work in the aftermath. A bridge at the southern end of the Alaskan Way Viaduct tunnel, in Seattle, features rebar made from a nickel-titanium alloy and concrete embedded with polyvinyl fibers that together let the structural components bend and stretch during a seismic event. The members return to their original position after the event and retain their structural integrity.