Pedestrian Bridge Collapses at Florida International University, Killing Six and Injuring Nine

In a Florida workplace accident that made national news headlines, a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University’s (FIU) main campus in Miami collapsed on March 15th during structural testing that was being performed even though cracks had been discovered in the bridge several days earlier. The 950-ton bridge was being constructed to allow pedestrians to cross Tamiami Trail (also known as 8th Street), a major Miami thoroughfare, at 109th Avenue. Six people died in the collapse, including motorists, passengers and one construction worker. Firefighters found five victims trapped underneath the concrete, while a sixth victim died of injuries from the bridge’s collapse at the hospital. Since the collapse, several troubling details have emerged regarding construction of the bridge that have called into question its safety from the very beginning of the project, which was six months behind in completion and running millions of dollars over budget. An investigation has begun by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) into the cause of the collapse, but a final report is not expected to be issued for months.

The Troubled History of the FIU Pedestrian Bridge

The collapsed bridge was built using Accelerated Bridge Construction, a quick but expensive construction method that has grown in popularity in recent years. This type of construction minimizes traffic disturbances because construction crews can quickly swing slabs into place and resume work while traffic passes underneath. However, until fully secured, quick-build structures can be unstable, like the collapsed FIU pedestrian bridge. The span that eventually gave way was set into place during a six-hour process on March 10, just five days before the collapse. However, cracks in the concrete slab were spotted two days before the incident. The lead engineer on the project even left a voicemail message with a Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) employee who was overseeing the project to report the cracking, but the FDOT employee did not actually listen to the voicemail until the day after the collapse due to his absence from the office on another assignment.

The day of the incident, following a stress-test of the bridge, a 174-foot concrete slab came crashing down just before 2 p.m. The most recent Miami Herald report has identified structural and design issues that may be to blame. Some experts speculate the bridge collapse may have occurred due to the overtightening of a rod that was damaged when the span was lifted into place five days before its collapse.

Regardless of what the NTSB and state safety regulators ultimately conclude the cause to be, the collapse is already having effects on the company building the bridge, the FIGG Bridge Group, after Florida Governor Rick Scott suspended the future payments of more than $13.6 million in federal funds that had been allocated for the project. Scott has ordered that all funding be withheld indefinitely, pending the completion of the National Transportation Safety Board investigation.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys of Schwed, Adams & McGinley 

This horrific disaster is a reminder of the dangers of worksite accidents, which can occur suddenly and without warning and cause devastating effects to those unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity. At Schwed Adams & McGinley, P.A., our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of combined legal experience representing those who have suffered catastrophic injuries or have been the victim of a wrongful death in a worksite accident like the recent collapse of the FIU pedestrian bridge. If you have been injured in a worksite accident, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys at contact@schwedlawfirm.com or (877) 694-6079 today.

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