Even before the dust had settled on the wreckage of the collapsed Florida International University (FIU) pedestrian bridge, fingers were being pointed at those who allegedly may have some responsibility in the disaster that has thus far killed six people.
The newly-installed span was erected over the eight traffic lanes below on Saturday, March 10. Weighing 950 tons, the structure cost over $19 million to build and was still under construction at the time of the collapse.
Intended to connect a Sweetwater neighborhood with the FIU campus on the other side of the interstate, the bridge wasn’t scheduled to open to bicyclists and pedestrians until some point next year. In 2017, a student at the university died in a pedestrian collision while walking near the site of the span.
The university’s website has facts about the bridge and its construction posted, including that it was designed to last for over a century and was intended to remain intact in gusts from a Category 5 hurricane.
Despite this, the bridge’s supports failed. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a visiting FIU professor for the last decade, tweeted the following:
“The cables that suspend the #Miami bridge had loosened & the engineering firm ordered that they be tightened. They were being tightened when it collapsed today.”
Authorities report that nine people had been treated for injuries from the collapse, including some of the construction workers. Others who died were in the crushed cars lying beneath the tangle of wreckage. As of Friday morning, officials referred to their efforts as a “recovery operation” rather than a rescue.
The spokesperson for the Miami-Dade Police Department called the emergency crews’ attempts a “very slow process.” Workers had to move with care due to the instability of the bridge as they tried to rescue victims and preserve evidence.
Gov. Rick Scott announced that Florida officials would determine if wrongdoing caused or contributed to the structure failing, adding that anyone who bore responsibility faced being held accountable for their actions or omissions.
The university’s president stated that FIU followed all required processes and used state-certified contractors in the building of the bridge.
Source: CNN, “Cables on Florida bridge were being ‘tightened when it collapsed,’ Rubio says,” Madison Park and Joe Sutton, March 16, 2018