Seismic Risk Assessment for the I-25/I-70 Corridor in the Mountain Plains Region of the U.S.

When one thinks of earthquakes the Mountain Plains Region does not come to mind first; rather, the West Coast, South America, Japan, and, most recently, Italy and Nepal can easily be pictured. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) the largest earthquake on record for Colorado occurred in 1882: The earthquake of November 7, 1882, the first ever to cause damage at Denver, probably centered in the Front Range near Rocky Mountain National Park, and is the largest historical earthquake in the state. The magnitude was estimated to be about 6.2 on the Richter scale. In Boulder County the walls of the depot cracked, and plaster fell from walls at the university at Boulder. The quake was felt as far away as Salina, Kansas and Salt Lake City, Utah. Seismic hazard assessment in Colorado has demonstrated there is the potential for another event of this magnitude. Most structures in Colorado are designed with a focus on wind, which puts them at significant risk if an earthquake of M6 or greater were to occur, primarily because of a lack of seismic detailing which enables a structure to dissipate the energy input from load reversals. The seismic hazard situation in Colorado aligns with that of other parts of the United States and has been termed low-occurrence high-consequence. This hazard situation has created a challenge in terms of public perception, i.e. there is a perceived lack of need to consider this type of hazard. According to the 2005 Regional Transportation Plan for the Intermountain Transportation Planning Region (2007), up to 38,000 vehicles travel I-70 each day and that traffic count is likely much higher now (2015). Consider what would happen if this traffic corridor was disrupted for some period of time, and perhaps if I-25, which intersects I-70, was also disrupted because of one or more bridge or overpass failures. This project examined a range of scenario events to gain a better understanding of the potential level of traffic disruption that might occur at the intersection of two main arterial freeways, namely Interstates 25 and 70.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This document was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, University Transportation Centers Program.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Mountain-Plains Consortium

    North Dakota State University
    Fargo, ND  United States  58108

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • van de Lindt, John W
    • Nazari, Negar
  • Publication Date: 2015-12


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; Maps; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 25p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01590539
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: MPC 15-296
  • Created Date: Feb 18 2016 9:26AM