By Nada Alturki 3/16/2018
Four people died and another nine were injured when Florida International University pedestrian bridge connecting the campus with the city of Sweetwater unexpectedly collapsed onto a six-lane Miami highway. Authorities say the newly-built bridge weighed 950- tons, and had just been moved into place on Saturday. It was set to be open for foot traffic next year. Cars were crushed and stuck under the bridge until specialists could reach them and assess the situation, starting a formal investigation on Friday morning.
“I saw there were multiple cars crushed under the bridge. It was just terrible. I saw some people stopping their cars, trying to get out, trying to assess the situation to see if there is anything they could do to help,” said FIU student, Jacob Miller.

The structure was initially built using an accelerated bridge construction method, or ABC, putting together large pieces of span, separate from the site, and then attaching it when done. Five days before the collapse, FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg spoke out,“FIU is about building bridges and student safety. This project accomplishes our mission beautifully.”

The company that designed the bridge, FIGG Bridge Engineers, also helped design the Zakim Bridge for the city of Boston that was opened in 2003. The fact that the company assisted with the design of both projects has caused people to think the Boston bridge may also be prone to a similar fate. However, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (Mass DOT) released a statement saying: “We have a robust inspection program for the Zakim Bridge and are fully confident in the safety of the Zakim Bridge and all Commonwealth of Massachusetts bridges, as we follow federal standards for regular inspections. While the cause of the Miami pedestrian bridge collapse is unknown, the design of this pedestrian bridge is not similar to the design of the Zakim Bridge and is unique to the project site characteristics at its location in Miami.”

While FIGG claims that “In our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before,” it is apparent that a lawsuit was raised against the company in 2012 when part of a bridge they designed crashed onto a railroad track in Virginia. The lawsuit accused them of positioning “incompetent, inexperienced, unskilled or careless employees” at the site of the collapse.