OAKLAND, Calif. — The devastating earthquake in Japan is serving as a painful reminder that California has struggled to protect the state from the next big one, namely when it comes to bolstering at-risk buildings.
California's five-year-old program for helping cash-strapped public schools seismically retrofit their most vulnerable buildings has disbursed only a tiny portion of the $200 million set aside.
Even though billions of dollars have been spent on retrofitting thousands of unreinforced brick buildings, roads, bridges and university buildings, experts say thousands of concrete school buildings, high-rise apartments and hospitals built before California changed its building code in 1976 have not even been identified.
They are made with "non-ductile" concrete, which did not hold up well after the recent quake in New Zealand.
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