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27Jan94 USA: RETROFITTING PROVES ITS WORTH - AFTER LA EARTHQUAKE.

The £650 million retrofitting programme for California's freeways which started after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 proved its worth.All retrofitted bridges withstood the quake.But it was a different story for bridges strengthened under the 1971 retrofitting scheme.John Scales, structures supervising engineer with Parsons Brinckerhoff, said he was unaware of any damage to the 114 bridges retrofitted after Loma Prieta. But he said 400 bridges still needed strengthening.He said: 'Caltrans is estimating publicly that they will have the damaged freeways open again by the end of the year, but internally they think they may get the job done more quickly.'There are 19 bridges which have either collapsed or suffered severe damage. Those have been divided into 10 contracts. One will be designed by a consultant, the others in-house by Caltrans, and building contractors have already been appointed.'Paul Askelson, Caltrans' structural maintenance engineer for southern California, said his crews and 36 civil engineers had visited 400 bridges within two days of the quake.He said: 'We found a lot of shear keys failed, a lot of movement was transmitted through them. Hinge restrainers put in the 1971 retrofitting caused problems and in some cases columns failed.'Elwood Smeitana of EQE worked on the retrofitting programme before the quake. He said: 'The quake has taught us that we had better refocus our financial priorities on to retrofitting.' CONSTRUCTION NEWS