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DOT Launches Probe of FIU Bridge Project

Monday, March 26, 2018

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The U.S. Department of Transportation has officially started to investigate the collapse of the Florida pedestrian bridge that occurred March 14.  

The launch of the probe was in response to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, who requested an audit to evaluate the project’s compliance with federal requirements and specifications.

DOT Investigation

On March 20, according to a memorandum from the Department of Transportation, Sen. Bill Nelson,  D-Florida, Ranking Member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, also requested that the department review the oversight roles of all parties involved in the project.

National Transportation Safety Board, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

At around 2 p.m. on March 14 the span—which had just been set in place on March 10—collapsed across eight lanes of the busy road below, flattening several vehicles.

In the memorandum, Inspector General Calvin Scovel III notes that the focus of the evaluation will be on “whether the Florida International University pedestrian bridge met Federal and DOT requirements for the [Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery] application, approval, and grant agreement processes.”

The span was partially funded by the DOT's TIGER discretionary grant program. The DOT plans to begin the evaluation immediately, noted Scovel.

“We share these concerns about the collapse, and we are committed to supporting the Department’s efforts to improve transportation safety.”

Bridge Collapse

At around 2 p.m. on March 14 the span—which had just been set in place on March 10—collapsed across eight lanes of the busy road below, flattening several vehicles.

The 950-ton, 174-foot-long span was assembled alongside the road while support columns were erected in place. On March 10, the span was lifted off the ground with a mechanical transporter, swung into position, then lowered onto the support columns. Sliding it into place took six hours, noted the Miami Herald, and the process—known as Accelerated Bridge Construction—was touted by FIU as an innovative “instant” bridge technique.

According to CNN, shortly after the span was installed, W. Denney Pate, an engineer with bridge firm FIGG, which was part of the design-construction team, noticed there was an issue—a crack had formed along the north side of the bridge, and repairs were needed.

The first civil lawsuit stemming from the incident has also been filed; Marquise Rashaad Hepburn was “seriously injured” as he rode his bicycle underneath the pedestrian bridge that was being built for Florida International University.


Tagged categories: Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC); Bridges; Department of Transportation (DOT); Government; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management

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