Terrible tragedy struck Florida International University’s (FIU) campus yesterday when a newly installed pedestrian bridge collapsed onto the road below, killing at least 6 and severely injuring many more.
It’s not clear what caused the collapse, which happened around 1:30pm Thursday, but first responders were still digging through the rubble Thursday night in attempts to rescue as many as possible. There were at least 8 vehicles underneath the bridge when it collapsed, according to ABC News. At least 9 other victims have been removed from the scene and transported to local hospitals, according to WSVN Miami.
UPDATE 3/16/2018: Florida Senator Marco Rubio tweeted late Thursday night that the bridge's post tension cables had loosened and they were being tightened when it collapsed.
Surveillance footage also caught the moment the bridge collapsed:
Footage of the scene soon after it happened was caught on video by Gabriela Collazo and shared on Twitter:
The 174 foot long, 950-ton section of bridge was being installed to allow students to more safely cross over the very busy road, a road in which students had been killed in vehicle accidents prior to this, according to reports. This section was only half of the total span of the bridge, which in total planned to be 289 feet long, 109 feet tall, and 32 feet wide. Construction began in 2017 and was not scheduled to be complete until early 2019
As you can see in the video below, the bridge was just recently “swung” into place after being constructed next to the site.
This method of construction is called “Accelerated Bridge Construction” or ABC, for short. ABC allows sections of infrastructure to be prefabricated and then installed in its final location once many of the time consuming aspects are completed. It’s meant to reduce disruption to traffic and pedestrians by reducing the time actually spent on the project site. The ABC method has been used successfully on many projects in the past, so there is no doubt that the design and construction teams will be heavily scrutinized in the investigation process.
In an article published to FIU’s website, the author explains that the bridge had many firsts:
“The FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity Bridge is the largest pedestrian bridge moved via Self-Propelled Modular Transportation in U.S. history. It is also the first in the world to be constructed entirely of self-cleaning concrete. When exposed to sunlight, the titanium dioxide in the concrete captures pollutants and turns it bright white, reducing maintenance costs.”
The engineer for the project, Figg Bridge Engineers, also issued a statement on the tragedy via the News-Press. Munilla Construction Management (MCM), the firm in charge of the project, issued their statement on Facebook:
We sincerely hope that no more lives are lost and all those injured make full and speedy recoveries.