The wave felt like an enormous ocean swell, except that I was nowhere near the water. It was January 17, 1994, hours after the 6.7 magnitude Northridge Earthquake struck, when a 5.0-ish aftershock sent me and a dozen other onlookers scurrying for safety from our vantage point atop a concrete bridge from where we could see several derailed train cars below.
On that day (the best of my 10-year career as an engineer), I observed houses, apartment complexes, parking garages, businesses and bridges that had failed in expected and unexpected ways.
Later, from the safety of my home in San Diego, I spent hours over a period of months looking at photos of the damage, especially of structures made of wood–most relevant to my then job, and bridges–at a short-lived but much-loved stint at a bridge design firm, I had learned the basics seismic retrofit of bridges.
• To read Julee Rudolf’s complete blog, go to juleerudolf.blog/2019/02/05/tunnel-to-viaduct-8k/