WEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WHDH) – The pedestrian bridge at Florida International University had just been installed on Saturday. Just five days later, the bridge collapsed onto the road, trapping cars and victims underneath.
In FIU’s press release announcing the bridge’s installation, the school said the bridge would be built using Accelerated Bridge Construction, where the 174-foot section of the bridge was built adjacent to SW 8 Street and then put into place.
“This method of construction reduces potential risks to workers, commuters and pedestrians and minimizes traffic interruptions,” the press release said. “The main span of the FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity Bridge was installed in a few hours with limited disruption to traffic over this weekend.”
The collapse brought 950 tons of metal and concrete onto the road below, trapping eight vehicles underneath.
MCM, the Miami-based construction management firm that won the bridge contract, took its website down on Thursday. But an archived version of the website featured a news release touting the project with FIGG Bridge Engineers, “a nationally acclaimed, award-winning firm based out of Tallahassee.”
The release said FIGG had designed “iconic bridges all over the country, including Boston’s famous Leonard P. Zakim Bridge and Florida’s Sunshine Skyway Bridge.”
MCM said on twitter that it was “a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist. We will conduct a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and will cooperate with investigators on scene in every way.”
FIGG said in a statement it was “stunned by today’s tragic collapse.”
“In our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before. Our entire team mourns the loss of life and injuries associated with this devastating tragedy, and our prayers go out to all involved.”
FIGG was fined in 2012 after a 90-ton section of a bridge it was building in Virginia crashed onto railroad tracks below, causing several minor injuries to workers. The citation, from the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, said FIGG did not do the proper inspections of the girder that failed and had not obtained written consent from its manufacturer before modifying it, according to a story in The Virginian-Pilot.
Court documents show that MCM, or Munilla Construction Management, was accused of substandard work in a lawsuit filed earlier this month. The suit said a worker at Fort Lauderdale International Airport, where the company is working on an expansion, fell and injured himself when a makeshift bridge MCM built collapsed under the worker’s weight.
The suit charged the company with employing “incompetent, inexperienced, unskilled or careless employees” at the job site.
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