FIU Pedestrian Bridge Collapses On SW 8th Street, Authorities Confirm Fatalities

Mar 15, 2018

The Florida International University (FIU) pedestrian bridge across SW Eighth Street collapsed Thursday afternoon, trapping at least 8 vehicles underneath and causing several fatalities, according to the authorities.

The bridge is located on the intersection of SW Eighth Street and SW 109th Avenue. According to witnesses, it gave way around 1:30 p.m., while the traffic light for motorists was on red, so it fell on top of a row of stopped vehicles. 

"The main focus is to rescue people." said Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez. "As soon as those efforts are over, our homicide bureau will take the lead."

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue has indicated that it's securing the structure while it continues to look for victims. It has confirmed that there are "multiple patients injured." Cranes are on the scene to raise the rubble to allow rescue workers more access.

Miami-Dade Police have confirmed there are 6 fatalities. At least 10 people were transported to Kendall Regional Medical Center, the closest level 1 Trauma center, according to the Miami Herald.  

Authorities are requesting residents to avoid the area of Tamiami Trail and 107 Avenue until further notice. They have also established a family reunification center at the FIU campus, SASC Room 100, and a hotline for information: (305) 348-3481.

The bridge was installed at SW 109th Avenue Saturday morning, intended eventually to provide pedestrian access across Tamiami Trail from FIU’s main campus to Sweetwater, where thousands of students live in off-campus housing or in FIU’s newer dorms. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says it is sending a “go team” to investigate the deadly collapse of the bridge. Rob Accetta, from the Office of Highway Safety, will be the investigator in charge of the group, scheduled to arrive to Miami late this evening.  Gov. Rick Scott said he was headed to Miami as well. 

"We have a national tragedy on our hands," Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez said.

 

MCM Construction and FIGG Bridge Design collaborated on the $14.2 million cable-supported bridge.

MCM Construction posted a message to their Facebook page saying: 

"Our family’s thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy. The new UniversityCity Bridge, which was under construction, experienced a catastrophic collapse causing injuries and loss of life. MCM is a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist. We will conduct a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and will cooperate with investigators on scene in every way."

FIGG issue a statement indicating: 

“We are stunned by today’s tragic collapse of a pedestrian bridge that was under construction over Southwest Eighth Street in Miami. Our deepest sympathies are with all those affected by this accident. We will fully cooperate with every appropriate authority in reviewing what happened and why. In our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before. Our entire team mourns the loss of life and injuries associated with this devastating tragedy, and our prayers go out to all involved.”

 

Figg was fined for the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge collapse in 2012 in Virginia. According to the Virginia Pilot, the state issued four $7,000 fines, citing Figg for: modifying a girder without manufacturer's written consent; not doing daily, weekly, monthly inspections; not providing adequate training for equipment; not having certain safety procedures in place.

Some details about the FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity Bridge from a press release about its opening:

  • 174 feet long
  • Was put in place on March 10, 2018.
  • Weight: 950 tons
  • Largest pedestrian bridge move via Self-Propelled Modular Transportation, in U.S. history, according to senior project manager Rodrigo Isaza, from MCM, which partnered with FIGG Bridge Engineers to design and build the bridge.

 

Before Saturday’s installation, FIU said the method of overall installation significantly reduced the risk to workers, walkers, drivers and minimized traffic disruptions for construction.

FIU issued a statement this afternoon, indicating they are "shocked and saddened" about the event. 

This is a developing story. We will update as we confirm information from authorities.

The Miami Herald and the Associated Press contributed to this report.