5.4-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Las Vegas; Spaghetti Bowl Ramp Closed

Officials from the Nevada Department of Transportation and Nevada Highway Patrol investigate possible damage on the ramp from southbound U.S. Route 95 to southbound Interstate 15 on Friday, May 22, 2015. The ramp is currently closed. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Officials from the Nevada Department of Transportation and Nevada Highway Patrol investigate possible damage on the ramp from southbound U.S. Route 95 to southbound Interstate 15 on Friday, May 22, 2015. The ramp is currently closed. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

A 5.4-magnitude earthquake shook Las Vegas and surrounding areas Friday morning, and the state closed a portion of the Spaghetti Bowl to inspect a ramp for possible damage, backing up traffic for miles.

The quake, which hit at 11:47 a.m., was centered about 24 miles south-southwest of Caliente, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The ramp from southbound U.S. Route 95 to southbound Interstate 15 was closed due to damage about 12:20 p.m., the Nevada Department of Transportation said in a tweet. The damage had not been officially linked to the earthquake, and it was not clear how long the ramp would remain closed.

NDOT said it was not doing a widespread inspection of the state’s bridges as a result of the earthquake because most bridges are designed and engineered to withstand small quakes. But the ramp at the Spaghetti Bowl was being checked.

“We are currently inspecting for any potential damage following the recent earthquake in Caliente, including the U.S. (Highway) 95 southbound ramp to I-15 southbound that is currently closed due to possible structural damage,” said Tony Illia, a spokesman for the department.

“All of our bridge structures are designed to withstand rigorous wind and earthquake loading,” Illia said. “Nevada lies within an active seismic zone, which is something that we take into account during the project design and engineering phase.”

Meanwhile, the Highway Patrol was checking for possible damage at other major freeway interchanges, Trooper Loy Hixson said.

Illia said Nevada has some of the best-rated bridges in the country, according to a recent report by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. Only 1.8 percent of Nevada bridges are classified as structurally deficient, which is the lowest in the country. The national average is 6 percent.

Officials at McCarran International Airport said there were no disruptions in operations and planes were routinely taking off and landing after the quake.

‘DID YOU FEEL IT?’

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office had no immediate reports of any damage in or around Caliente.

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SOURCE: Las Vegas Review-Journal – Cassandra Taloma and Kimber Laux

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