Can elastomeric bearings, shape memory alloys and other ordinary components help bridges better withstand an earthquake? That's what researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Illinois Department of Transportation are looking into. Illinois is not a high seismic region like California and thus can't rationalize using expensive specialized isolation bearings to enhance a bridge's ductility. "We would like to achieve a response in bridges here in Illinois that is similar to what is achieved in higher seismic regions, but we’d like to achieve it with more typical kinds of bearings and components," said James LaFave, an associate professor in the university's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

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