2017 Kavanagh Lecture

Join us for the 2017 Thomas C. Kavanagh Memorial Lecture featuring Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl. His lecture will focus on "The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge Spans: Has the Field of Bridge Engineering Regressed?"

The 1936 San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is a marvel of bridge engineering. Spanning 4.8 miles and with an average daily traffic of 270,000 vehicles, the bridge is a key transportation corridor in the United States. The Bay Bridge, which consists of the East Crossing and the West Crossing, also lies between the Hayward and the San Andreas faults, two of the most active seismic faults in northern California. In 1989, a Magnitude 7.1 earthquake on Hayward fault shook Northern California. The 1936 Bay Bridge behaved as intended in the design and survived almost intact. The consequential structural damage was limited to a 50-ft long segment of the upper deck on top of a pier of the East Crossing, which fell off from its seat and collapsed on the lower deck.  In 1997 the State of California decided to replace the East Crossing truss spans with a new bridge, now called the Self-Anchored Suspension (SAS) Bay Bridge. During the design and construction period of this bridge, however, several major problems arose.

Astaneh-Asl has spent more than 28 years studying various aspects of seismic behavior and retrofit of the engineering marvel of the 1936 bridge and 20 years studying the 2013 problematic new bridge, from its initial design to its construction and completion. He will share his findings on these two bridge engineering cases. Most of the information, which has not been published yet, answers the question: Has Bridge Engineering Regressed? His answer is: Of course, not.  Bridge engineers can design and build bridges using current technology that are safe, elegant, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly. But in the case of the 2013 bridge, several factors contributed to a bridge whose seismic resistance is debatable, its duration of construction was unacceptability long, and whose cost overruns were astronomical. Astaneh-Asl will discuss the reasons why the SAS Bay Bridge ended up being so problematic and the lessons learned from this project.

Biography: Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, Ph.D., P.E., is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He has over 48 years of experience in design, research, and teaching courses in structural and earthquake engineering and design of buildings, bridges, and other structures as well as blast protection of structures. He has testified as an expert before the policy making and judicial bodies, has completed more than 50 major research projects, and has published more than 300 technical publications. His two most important projects are the field investigation and analysis of the tragic collapse of the World Trade Center and studies of major long-span bridges in the world including the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. He can be reached at astaneh@berkeley.edu or through his website: www.ce.berkeley.edu/~astaneh




Share this event:

facebook linked in twitter email

Media Contact: Jennifer Matthews



The Penn State Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, established in 1881, is internationally recognized for excellence in the preparation of undergraduate and graduate engineers through the integration of education, research, and leadership.

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

212 Sackett Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-1408

Phone: 814-863-3084