Local expert weighs in on Gadsden County bridge collapse

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Tallahassee By: Katie Kaplan | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 21, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Two people were recovering Wednesday night after a bridge collapse in Gadsden County. The incident happened around 5 a.m. on Hutchinson Ferry Road, which is maintained by the county. A local engineering expert weighed in on what might have gone wrong.

"That's very disturbing news for bridge engineering society to be honest," said Hatem Seliem. "It's something that will be looked at very, very closely."

Seliem is the CEO of SDR, Structure Design and Rehabilitation, in Tallahassee. The engineering firm specializes in bridge design and inspection, but is not associated with the Gadsden County incident.

Seliem said it is extremely rare to hear of a bridge collapse, but they do happen. He pointed to the 2007 collapse on I-35 in Minnesota and last year's tragedy at Florida International University as two of the most-recent significant incidents.

"Any bridge has to undergo a routine inspection," he told WCTV's Katie Kaplan.

Seliem said almost all bridges are reinspected roughly every two years. He said there are a number of factors that could have caused the failure, such as overloading, deterioration or design error, but ultimately, it will not be known until an official investigation is complete. Many people will be looking forward to finding out what happened.

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