The M 7.1 Hector Mine earthquake caused little bridge or highway damage. Although it seems reasonable to assume that the lack of damage was the result of the earthquake occurring in the middle of the desert, there were several state highways in the area, including Interstate 40 about 10 km north of the fault rupture. Moreover, California's experience has been that enhancements to ground motion have resulted in major damage and collapse of bridges up to 100 km from the epicenter of large earthquakes. It would be of great practical value to bridge owners to understand why large-magnitude events like the Hector Mine earthquake have so little effect on bridges.
In this article we describe all of the bridge and highway damage resulting from the Hector Mine earthquake. Most of this damage was the result of long-term problems for these bridges that were exacerbated by the earthquake.