Coatings Industry News

Main News Page


Warning Disregarded Before FIU Bridge Collapse

Friday, June 14, 2019

Comment | More

In a new 115-page report related to the bridge collapse at Florida International University, which took place over a year ago, federal work-safety investigators determined that the street that ran under the bridge should have been shut down because of cracks in the structure. Parties involved failed to recognize the danger due to design errors.

The report, compiled by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, details a number of errors with the project, including a “deficient” design, FIGG Bridge Engineers’ attempts to close the cracks and faulty oversight from two engineering consulting firms.

What Happened

FIU is home to the Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center, a multi-university center promoting ABC techniques. The pedestrian bridge was touted as an example of innovative design and construction meant to limit road closures and inconvenience stemming from the otherwise lengthy bridge construction process.

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.

National Transportation Safety Board, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In a new 115-page report related to the bridge collapse at Florida International University, which took place over a year ago, federal work-safety investigators determined that the street that ran under the bridge should have been shut down because of cracks in the structure. Parties involved failed to recognize the danger due to design errors.

In early May 2018, the Miami Herald sued after two months of attempts to access documents related to the collapse, and in early June, the Florida Department of Transportation asked a County Circuit Court judge to dismiss the suit. The newspaper said the agency acknowledged that the records fell under the state’s open-records law, but FDOT argued that their pertinence to the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation meant they could not be released publicly.

In August, Leon County state court Judge Kevin Carroll ruled that FDOT must release the records associated with the tragedy. A federal judge, though, quickly stepped in and blocked the release of the documents. In September, a preliminary report from the NSTB indicated that cracks found in the bridge a few days before it collapsed were much more extensive than originally thought. Also in September, it came to light that 26 threaded steel rods—the kind being tightened on the bridge at the time of the collapse—were melted down after being removed from the site.

In April, after MCM filed for bankruptcy, lawyers presented documents alleging that engineers dismissed cracks found in the bridge prior to the disaster. The following month, the construction company responsible for building the FIU bridge reached an agreement with insurers to pay up to $42 million to victims of the incident, as well as their families.

Recent Report

According to the Miami Herald, the report also blamed MCM for not exercising “independent judgement” when it came to implementing the necessary safety measures once FIGG dismissed concerns over the cracks. The report goes on to emphasize that Southwest Eighth Street should have been shut down “immediately.” The statement regarding the road closure being necessary is the first time federal investigators have stated as such.

The report also confirms what independent experts told the Herald: the collapse was caused by re-tensioning where the cracks appeared. OSHA concluded that this was a fatal mistake: The re-tensioning resulted in the continued weakening of the structural joint.

FIGG has since called the OSHA report inaccurate, with a “flawed analyses,” and there was no evaluation of “many important factors” related to construction included either.

Additionally, the report also details a number of lapses that contributed to the accident: an unnamed engineer was not asked to carry out a detailed analysis that would have caught design flaws. Louis Berger, who was hired to conduct an independent review of FIGG’s design, should have reviewed plans for when the bridge was put into place, but didn’t. (This was the time the bridge collapsed.)

“The entire review was conducted by one engineer without any assistance from others at Louis Berger. It is interesting to note that neither FIGG, FIU nor FDOT raised the issue of why the structural design of the intermediate stage was not checked by Louis Berger,” OSHA said.  

On March 10, supervisor Kevin Hanson also sent a text message noting that the cracking in the bridge had him worried. Two days later, at least one MCM employee expressed similar concerns.

   

Tagged categories: Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC); Accidents; Bridges; Government; Health & Safety; Infrastructure; NA; North America; OSHA

Comment from john lienert, (6/14/2019, 8:12 AM)

kinda' looks like manslaughter to me


Comment from Mark Taylor, (6/14/2019, 8:17 AM)

Oh that's really never been in question. It's been, who's to blame. Contractor / designer or both. That's the question.


Comment from Tony Rangus, (6/14/2019, 10:06 AM)

When all the lawsuits & counter suits are complete, it would be very interesting to get copies of all the court transcripts.


Comment from Mark Bowen, (6/17/2019, 12:14 PM)

Don't bet that will happen. It is now popular to enter into settlement agreements where the terms must remain confidential. That way the guilty parties are never known. Just look at the tobacco settlements.


Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.


Advertisements
 
ABKaelin, LLC

 
KTA-Tator, Inc. - Corporate Office

 
Fischer Technology Inc.

 
HoldTight Solutions Inc.

 
DeFelsko Corporation

 
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical America

 
NLB Corporation

 
Sidewinder/Persyst Enterprises, Inc.

 
SAFE Systems, Inc.

 
Sauereisen, Inc.

 
 
 

Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL webmaster@paintsquare.com


The Technology Publishing Network

PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

 
EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About PaintSquare.com   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms & Conditions   |   Support   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us