Sorting through the Aftermath of the FIU Bridge Collapse
Rescue workers have been diligently digging through the wreckage from the fall of the 950-ton concrete pedestrian bridge that unexpectedly collapsed over the Tamiami Trail last week, tragically killing six individuals and injuring 10 more. However, the death toll is expected to increase as recovery efforts continue.
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) workers stated that just two days before the bridge collapsed, the lead engineer, Denney Pate, who was responsible for the bridge project had left a voicemail with FDOT informing them that he had observed cracking in the structure of the bridge. However, the FDOT worker stated the voicemail was not received until Friday, March 16.
“Obviously some repairs will need to be done but from a safety perspective we don’t see that there’s any issue there so we’re not concerned … although obviously the cracking is not good and something’s going to have to be, ya know, done to repair that,” Pate said in the voicemail transcript provided by FDOT.
The cracks in the concrete were discovered two days before the incident and discussed during a two-hour engineering meeting on the day of the collapse. The problem is that investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board have stated that they cannot confirm the cracking that was observed now that the bridge connecting Florida International University with the city of Sweetwater has collapsed. As a result, they cannot confirm or deny whether the cracking played a role in why it collapsed.
“A crack in the bridge does not necessarily mean it’s unsafe,” Robert Accetta, the lead NTSB investigator, said during a briefing Friday night on the Florida International University campus.
It can be confirmed that bridge workers were in the process of tightening two tension cables located inside of a support trust located at the northern end of the bridge. The purpose of the tightening was to strengthen the bridge’s truss.
Motorists, passengers and one construction worker were among the victims who died in the collapse. Lawsuits are being filed against the companies involved in the design, construction and oversight of the bridge, who failed to take the necessary safety precautions to keep workers and the public safe.
Many are left questioning why cars would be allowed to travel under a bridge with reported cracking, while workers were conducting a stress test on the structure. For now, the investigation into what exactly caused the collapse of the bridge is ongoing, as are the recovery efforts to find those still missing. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families who tragically lost their lives as a result of this tragedy.
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