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FIU bridge collapse: Why did it happen?

Why would a bridge collapse only five days after it was installed? This is the question that so many of us are asking right now. This is the same bridge that was hailed as a marvel of cutting edge technology, intended to keep students safe at FIU while walking from campus to the nearby city of Sweetwater. Instead it turned into a nightmare ‑‑ collapsing on top of a crowded street, killing six people and severely injuring others. This so called "marvel" has left members of our community mourning the loss of family members and friends. It was unnecessary and could have been prevented.

What went wrong? As a Miami Personal Injury Attorney that specializes in premises liability accidents, and has experience with these types of issues, there are many hard questions that need to be asked so that we can hold those responsible for causing this nightmare accountable. I found answers to similar questions while fighting for victims of the deck collapse at Shuckers Bar & Grill and our firm was able to recover a substantial settlement for our severely injured clients.

It is extremely important to determine the causes of this catastrophic accident in order to prevent another deadly collapse and to provide answers to our community. While the investigation is still in its early stages, several parties are being scrutinized for their roles in this tragedy. FIGG Bridge Engineers designed the walkway, Munilla Construction Management, a major South Florida construction firm, built the bridge and FIU was responsible for hiring both companies and overseeing the project.

The construction of the bridge utilized a new technique called Accelerated Bridge Construction. While new technology was used, mistakes were clearly made. This method of construction allows construction crews to assemble large sections of the bridge offsite then move the pieces into place simultaneously. This approach has been used recently in order to prevent traffic disruptions and to complete projects quicker and cheaper. The FIU bridge's 175-foot main span was built by the side of Southwest 8th Street, and when completed was hoisted into place over support structures at both ends. Also, this bridge had an unusual design that may have contributed to its collapse. It had a heavy concrete roof connected to the walkway section by V-shaped cables. The bridge collapsed as crews were working to tighten those cables. While that work took place, cars were inexplicably allowed to freely pass underneath the bridge, putting members of the community in harm's way.

Several important questions remain unanswered:

1) Did the design of the bridge violate any engineering safety codes?

2) When the original design of the bridge had to be changed to accommodate a demand by the Florida Department of Transportation to move a support structure, was the new design subjected to the appropriate level of review?

3) Why was the main span of the bridge installed over a busy road before the main support tower was built to help support the weight of the bridge?

4) Did Munilla Construction Management use substandard building materials in the construction of the bridge?

5) Did Munilla Construction Management or FIGG Bridge Engineers improperly pay any local officials to avoid routine inspections?

6) When an employee of FIGG noticed cracks in the bridge, he notified Florida Department of Transportation of the danger. Why didn't FDOT, FIGG or MCM act on that warning?

7) Who made the decision to allow cars to drive underneath the bridge on a busy roadway, in the middle of the day, while support cables were being adjusted on the bridge? Why weren't proper safety precautions taken to divert traffic during that time?

These questions need to be answered. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Florida Department of Transportation are currently investigating the circumstances of the collapse. As the investigation progresses, it is vitally important that whoever contributed to the bridge collapse and failed to protect the public, be held responsible.

Bradley Pepper can assist victims and their family members in recovering money to compensate them for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, wrongful death and other damages. Please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bradley Pepper, P.A. at (305) 781-1119 if you, or someone you know, has been injured as a result of the bridge collapse. We offer a FREE CONSULTATION and are here to answer any questions you might have, help guide you through this difficult time and fight to make sure that you receive the maximum possible recovery against all responsible parties. There is no fee unless we recover a settlement or judgement for you.