Questions continue to linger in aftermath of FIU bridge collapse

Published: Mar. 19, 2018 at 4:51 PM EDT
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By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service

March 19, 2018

MIAMI, Fla. (CNS) -- As investigators continue to look into what caused a pedestrian bridge to collapse at FIU, new details are emerging to suggest bridge engineers and the Florida Department of Transportation may have underestimated a problem in the days leading up to the collapse.

A voicemail released by FDOT reveals project engineers had concerns over cracks discovered in the bridge.

In a split second, commuters on Southwest 8th Street went from a routine drive to a nightmare as a pedestrian bridge designed by FIGG Bridge Engineers collapsed onto the busy road, claiming the lives of six people.

FDOT was quick to distance itself from the collapse, stating in a press release that the bridge was a local agency's project. The agency then released a voicemail left by the lead FIGG engineer, which was recorded two days before the collapse.

"I was calling to share with you some information about the FIU pedestrian bridge and some cracking that's been observed," Denney Pate said in the voicemail. "From a safety perspective, we don't see that there's any issue there. Obviously, the cracking is not good."

An FDOT consultant attended a meeting with the project engineers the day of the collapse, and participated in a discussion about the cracks. FDOT says the engineers said there were no safety concerns and never asked for assistance from the department.

FDOT says the ultimate responsibility for the safety of the project falls on the engineering company. Because the company didn't question the bridge's safety, FDOT says it had no reason to believe there was a problem.

Florida Governor Rick Scott echoed FDOT's defense.

"The individual said there were no safety issues," he said.

FIGG maintains their assessment indicated the cracks didn't compromise the bridge's safety.

It's yet to be determined if the cracking was the cause of the collapse. FIGG says it's continuing to work with authorities to determine exactly what went wrong.

Governor Scott directed FDOT to suspend more than $13.6 million in federal funding for the bridge’s construction until the cause of the collapse is determined.