Free Demonstration of New Isolated Bridge System at UCB Shaking Table

The PEER Transportation Research Program has been conducting research on various new bridge designs that are able to withstand the largest earthquakes without significant damage. Emphasis is placed on bridge systems that can be constructed more quickly and economically, and with less impact on the environment. These systems use numerous new features like new low carbon materials, systems that rock on their foundations or have special details that deform but automatically recenter following a major event, and prefabricated systems that promote high quality and accelerated construction.

A free demonstration on one of these systems will occur on May 26.

A three span bridge has been constructed on the earthquake shaking table at UC Berkeley. The bridge segments are supported using seismic isolators and utilize the new Segmental Displacement Control Isolation System, which is being tested for the first time. In this approach, the movement of the three isolated bridge segments is constrained so that the bridge’s road centerline remains continuous without residual offsets thus improving driver safety, minimizing the need to realign the different segments following and earthquake, and minimizing damage to the joints provided between segments along the bridge. This is achieved using special lockup guides between the bridge segments, and special isolation bearings at the ends of the bridge.

Because of the ability of the Segmental Displacement Control Isolation concept to keep the bridge segments aligned during earthquakes, this technology may be particularly attractive for use in protecting high speed rail systems being constructed in California and around the world. As such, the test specimen to be highlighted in the demonstration tests will incorporate railway tracks and a model rail car.

This research is funded by PEER, NSF and Earthquake Protection Systems.

DATE: Wednesday May 26, 2010

LOCATION: PEER Earthquake Simulation Laboratory, Richmond Field Station, UC Berkeley


RSVP: Please RSVP at

WHAT YOU WILL SEE: The earthquake simulator is a 20 ft by 20 ft platform driven by computer controlled hydraulic actuators and is capable of reproducing 3D acceleration records as large as any recorded in California. A three span bridge model has been constructed in steel to demonstrate the Segmental Displacement Control Isolation concept. Large ground motion records from past earthquake in California, Japan, Chile and elsewhere in the world will be imposed on the bridge. The bridge will be equipped with a set of rail tracks and a model rail car to illustrate the applicability of the concept to high speed rail systems.


10:30 am Welcome and Presentation about the new bridge system
11:00 am View Specimen and Watch Live Shaking Table Demonstration
12:00 pm Earthquake Simulator and nees@berkeley Laboratory Tour
2:00 pm Departure