Dr. Genda Chen, professor of civil engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, was part of a seven-member Transportation Infrastructure Reconnaissance Team that traveled to Chile earlier this month to document the performance of bridges, tunnels and retaining walls in the wake of February’s Chilean earthquake.
“The data collected and lessons learned from this earthquake are invaluable for future improvements of U.S. seismic design specifications,” says Chen, who was one of the bridge experts on the trip. “This is especially important for states like Oregon and Washington, where the tectonic and geologic conditions are eerily similar to Chile’s.”
Chen’s group visited more than 40 bridge sites in the heavily affected areas of Santiago and Concepcion, Chile.
Chen says Chile’s infrastructure held up quite well, despite the intensity of the quake. There are approximately 12,000 bridges in Chile; 100 or so were damaged and only 20 collapsed. Most retaining walls performed satisfactorily and no significant damage was reported to tunnels.
The reconnaissance team was selected by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, which dispatched the group to Chile and financed the trip.