Oregon’s Bridges Vulnerable to Quake Damage

SALEM, Ore. - Many of Oregon's major transportation corridors would be impassable if a major earthquake hit. That's the upshot of a study released today by the Oregon Department of Transportation. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

ODOT engineers used a new computer simulation program to subject Oregon bridges to hypothetical major earthquakes. The result? Many bridges along the state's biggest highways would be out of commission for months, if not longer, if a huge quake hit. That includes Interstate 5, according to ODOT's Dave Thompson:

Thompson: “Most of the bridges along the I-5 corridor were built before 1975. And obviously, the earthquake standards were way different 35 years ago.”

Another trouble spot would be U-S Highway 101 along the Oregon coast. Thompson says it would cost three billion dollars to retrofit the state's bridges to make them more likely to withstand a major quake.

Copyright 2009 Northwest News Network

On the web:
ODOT earthquake study: ftp://ftp.odot.state.or.us/Bridge/bridge_website_chittirat/2009_Seismic_Vulnerability