Yesterday at 1:30 PM EST, a newly-installed pedestrian bridge in Miami collapsed onto stopped vehicles, killing at least 8 and hospitalizing 10 more. Emergency workers continued working late into the night to free the vehicles that were still trapped under the rubble. They have recovered at least 2 bodies from the concrete as of 8 AM EST this morning.
The need to preserve evidence complicates the excavation process—discovering the cause of the collapse is vital, but ultimately it’s secondary to rescuing the lives of those under the rubble. Rescue teams are attempting to do both as quickly and safely as possible.
Florida International University & Bridge Designers Respond
Both FIU (the college for whom the bridge was built) and Figg Bridge Designers (the firm that designed the bridge) have released statements in response to the event. "This bridge was about collaboration, it was about hope, it was about opportunity, it was about determination," said Mark Rosenberg, FIU President. “Now we're feeling immense sadness, uncontrollable sadness."
Figg Bridge Engineers said they were “stunned” by the events, and committed to cooperating with the investigation. They added, “In our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before.” However, reporters discovered that Figg Bridge Engineers was fined four times for the 2012 South Norfolk Jordan Bridge collapse. The four fines each noted a different violation, including not performing inspections. That collapse, thankfully, resulted in no deaths—only minor injuries to 4 workers.
New Construction Method Used
The Miami bridge (also called the FIU-Sweetwater Bridge) was constructed using a newly-innovated method of bridge construction that utilized an accelerated pace and off-site construction to minimize worker risk and traffic slow-down. The 950-ton bridge was “swung” into place and installed on Saturday. We sincerely hope the rescue times are able to recover survivors from the bridge, and we hope they stay safe while getting to them. Our hearts go out to the victims of the collapse—we hope they get answers soon.
Update: Florida transportation officials have revealed that a Figg engineer called their department two days before the collapse to report cracking at the north end of the bridge.