Earthquake Engineering Research Center Gets $12 Million to Study Transportation Systems

Release Date: June 10, 1998 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER), headquartered at the University at Buffalo, will receive $12 million over the next six years from the U.S. Department of Transportation to apply its expertise to improving the seismic performance of the nation's surface transportation system.

The funds, allocated under the federal Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, signed today by President Clinton, will extend work begun by MCEER in 1992 under two Federal Highway Administration contracts that have focused on federal-aid highways, bridges and tunnels.

"With this legislation, Congress recognizes the significant success MCEER has had in using multidisciplinary teams of experts to study and develop new methods of seismic protection for our nation's roads and bridges," said UB President William R. Greiner.

"Congressman Jack Quinn deserves a great deal of credit for investing an enormous amount of time and effort to secure this funding," said Greiner. "Congressmen Sherwood Boehlert, John LaFalce and Bill Paxon also provided important support for our efforts, as did Senators Daniel Moynihan and Alfonse D'Amato. We thank them as well."

According to George C. Lee, Ph.D., MCEER director, the nation's transportation system is the world's largest, supporting more than 4.3 trillion miles of passenger travel and 3.6 trillion ton-miles of goods movement annually. It includes highways, transit systems, railroads, airports, waterways and ports, and pipelines.

"But except for some of the highway bridges, very little of this vast network has been designed and constructed with earthquakes in mind," he said.

Despite the fact that 39 states have been identified as having either moderate or significant earthquake risk, he added, there are no national guidelines or requirements for the seismic design of transportation systems, other than those developed for highway bridges.

"During the past six years, our concentrated effort to look at better ways to retrofit highway roads and bridges and other components has been generating very useful guidelines," Lee said. "Now we will be able to apply these efforts to other surface transportation facilities in the U.S.

"Our goal is to develop national seismic-design methodologies and guidelines for these systems and to determine the most cost-effective techniques for retrofitting existing ones."

MCEER is a nationwide consortium on earthquake engineering research, headquartered at the University at Buffalo. Funded principally by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the state of New York and the Federal Highway Administration, the center was established by the NSF in 1986 as the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research. The center's mission is to reduce earthquake losses through research and the application of advanced technologies that improve engineering, pre-earthquake planning and post-earthquake recovery strategies.

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