University researchers have unveiled a new concrete bridge bent system that they say reduces earthquake damage while speeding construction. The new rocking design uses octagonal, prefabricated, pretensioned concrete columns for added elasticity and a recentering effect that minimizes seismic-related structural damage and displacement. The structural support system’s critical components are created under factory conditions for improved quality and reduced erection time. The state transportation departments of California, Washington and Nevada have expressed early interest in adopting the bridge bent system, whose only size limitations stem from transportation logistics of precast columns and beams.
"The design of reinforced-concrete bridges in seismic regions has changed little since the mid-1970s," says John F. Stanton, a civil engineering professor at the University of Washington, Seattle, who developed the new underlying design concept, partly funded by a National Science Foundation award. “We're utilizing existing technologies in a new way that enables us to mitigate damage that would occur from a seismic event.”