WATCH: How the Bay Bridge is designed to withstand an earthquake

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Almost 30 years ago to the day, the Bay Bridge was not somewhere you wanted to be.

The 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta quake hit, causing a portion of the bridge to collapse and after 25 years of work, Caltrans says the bridge is now one of the safest places to be  when the big one strikes.

Strong and rigid — that’s how Caltrans described the San Francisco Oakland bridge back in 1989.

Now 30 years later it’s known as the most seismically advanced bridge ever built.

“From the Loma Prieta till 2013, it was an odyssey of finding the financing determining what type to be built and actually realizing the structure,” said Bart Ney with Caltrans.

As the anniversary of the Loma Prieta quake is upon us, Caltrans officials want commuters to know if you’re on it when the big one hits — you’ll be okay. 

“It has been designed to be able to move with the largest earthquake that could happen in 1,500 years,” Ney said. “What you’d see is that the bridge would move, the tower that’s up above you is made in four independent parts, and you’d see the deck move in waves, it’s designed to do that, and it will subside when the earthquake ends.”

They don’t design bridges based on earthquake magnitudes.

But instead, to withstand the ground motions, localizing the damage to certain areas of the structure. 

So that after the big one hits not only will it still be standing, but serving those that need it too. 

“What we had to do at Caltrans is design a lifeline that would allow emergency services and goods and everything we need to rebuild the area after that earthquake comes,” Ney said.

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