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Assessing the long-term earthquake risk for the US National Bridge Inventory (NBI)

September 30, 2020

We estimate annualized earthquake loss associated with over 600,000 bridges located throughout the contiguous United States. Each year, the Federal Highway Administration, in partnership with State Departments of Transportation, undertake a massive exercise to update the National Bridge Inventory (NBI) by combining data from states, federal agencies, local jurisdictions, and tribal governments. The NBI captures pertinent details related to individual bridges (e.g., their usage, repairs, or retrofits). We make use of the 2018 NBI that contain the necessary engineering attributes needed to assign the appropriate Hazus bridge class for each bridge, which can then be used for engineering risk analyses. Basic structural data, component dimensions, and regional replacement cost factors are used to develop an economic exposure model. This is a significant improvement over previous replacement costs, and as a result of this study, results are now available within the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazus platform. Earthquake hazard is defined using the U.S. Geological Survey’s 2018 National Seismic Hazard Model. For each bridge location, we obtain an earthquake shaking hazard curve defined in terms of spectral acceleration at a vibration period of 1.0 sec, ensuring that it properly reflects the site-specific soil conditions. We then integrate it with the bridge-specific fragility curve to compute annual probabilities of exceeding various damage states. Next, we perform economic loss analyses using the repair costs associated with specific damage states, resulting in an estimate of mean total annual financial loss for each bridge; this long-term measure of seismic risk enables us to illustrate the distribution of overall financial risk with respect to geographical region, era of construction, or type of bridge.

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