NDOT: Ramps are ‘sound and safe’ for travel after quake - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

NDOT: Ramps are ‘sound and safe’ for travel after quake

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A section of the US 95 SB ramp to I-15 is separated after an earthquake in Las Vegas on May 22, 2015. (Robert Noble/FOX5) A section of the US 95 SB ramp to I-15 is separated after an earthquake in Las Vegas on May 22, 2015. (Robert Noble/FOX5)
The southbound lanes of U.S. 95 were backed up on May 22, 2015,  hours after a 4.8-magnitude earthquake was felt in the Las Vegas Valley. (FAST CAM) The southbound lanes of U.S. 95 were backed up on May 22, 2015, hours after a 4.8-magnitude earthquake was felt in the Las Vegas Valley. (FAST CAM)
This image shows the US 95 on-ramp with a small separation. It was closed after a 4.8-magnitude earthquake on May 22, 2015. (Source: Trooper Loy Hixson/NHP) This image shows the US 95 on-ramp with a small separation. It was closed after a 4.8-magnitude earthquake on May 22, 2015. (Source: Trooper Loy Hixson/NHP)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

After an earthquake prompted the closure of several flyover ramps in Las Vegas' Spaghetti Bowl interchange on Friday, transportation engineers said the bridges remain safe for travel.

The magnitude-4.8 earthquake happened at 11:47 a.m., and was centered in Caliente, NV, about 150 miles north of Las Vegas.

Immediately after the temblor, emergency crews shut down the ramps from U.S. Highway 95 southbound to both directions of Interstate 15. The Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard ramp to I-15 southbound was also closed. This allowed crews to inspect a gap that appeared in the 95 ramp to I-15 southbound after the quake.

Link: Big Las Vegas earthquake a possibility

According to Mary Martini, District I engineer for the Nevada Department of Transportation, the gap existed before Friday's earthquake, but the tremor shook loose a protective rubber casing that was covering the seam of the bridge, making the damage appear worse than it really was.

“We're issuing an emergency contract to repair the seam,” Martini said. “Meanwhile, the ramps remain structurally sound and safe for travel.”

The ramps, which Martini said are made of cast-in-place concrete and steel reinforcements, reopened just after 4 p.m. They will remain open through Memorial Day, Martini said.

Several FOX5 viewers called the newsroom and posted on social media about the quake, saying they felt buildings sway and houses shake. One person said they heard a building creaking during the tremor.

Officials said no injuries or other significant damage was reported.

Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory, said Southern Nevadans shouldn't be shocked by Friday's earthquake.

“At one level, it's always a surprise when we get an earthquake, but this area carries enough tectonic strain, as they call it, or motion where these types of earthquakes or larger ones would not be unexpected,” Kent said.

Nevada is the third-most seismically active state. Nearly 20 percent of the earthquakes in the United States occur in Nevada, but most are small and centered in remote areas.

Kent said the odds of Friday's quake being a precursor to a larger one aren't all that long.

“The standard seismologist answer is about one in 20 for this being a foreshock of a larger earthquake, but if you look at the Nevada record over the last 150 years, we've had an abundance of doublets and triplets,” he said. “If you just use Nevada as an estimator, it's usually one in five or one in four odds of having an equal or larger earthquake in the next several days or weeks.”

If a bigger quake struck closer to the metropolitan area, there could be substantial damage.

“The Las Vegas Valley has an uncanny ability to trap seismic waves in a way similar to other basins like you might see in Mexico City or Katmandu. If you're gonna punch a lot of energy into the Las Vegas basin, it's gonna resonate for a while,” Kent said.

If you have pictures of damage or videos of the earthquake event in progress, email them to ReportIt@fox5vegas.com or upload them to our website at reportit.fox5vegas.com.

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