Florida restarts plans for bridge at FIU, two years after deadly collapse

The collapse in 2018 killed six people

The pedestrian bridge that collapsed (Credit: ANTONI BELCHI/AFP via Getty Images)
The pedestrian bridge that collapsed (Credit: ANTONI BELCHI/AFP via Getty Images)

The Florida Department of Transportation will begin the design process for a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University, more than two years after the bridge’s fatal collapse.

FDOT announced it would manage and oversee the new project for the intersection at Southwest Eighth Street and Southwest 109th Avenue in Sweetwater, connecting the city to FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus. The state’s transportation department said it will incorporate “enhanced safety measures,” including recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board.

On March 15, 2018, a 930-ton portion of the bridge that was under construction collapsed across Eighth Street, killing six people.

A report from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found a slew of errors in the design and construction of the bridge, and said the road should have been closed to traffic, the Miami Herald reported last year. OSHA spread the blame, saying Figg Bridge Engineers’ “deficient” design led to structural failure of the bridge; and Figg’s attempt to close the cracks, which triggered the collapse, was a fatal action.

OSHA also found that Munilla Construction Management failed to use “independent judgment with regard to implementing necessary safety measures” after Figg disregarded concerns over growing cracks on the morning that the portion of the bridge fell. Federal investigators also said that FIU and FDOT should have stepped in that morning and had independent experts review Figg’s conclusions.

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Munilla filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March 2019, with plans to reorganize.

“FDOT has learned valuable lessons since the tragic events surrounding the FIU bridge collapse two years ago,” Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault said in a statement.

FDOT said on Tuesday that the two-year design process for the new bridge will begin early next year, and construction will take about two years.

The bridge is aimed to keep pedestrians safe. A year before the construction accident, an FIU student was killed while crossing the intersection. A number of residential towers have been built north of Eighth Street, including University Bridge Residences, which has planned to connect to the bridge. It has since been renamed The One at University City, and is expected to open in time for the 2020 academic year.