The collapse of a $14.2 million pedestrian bridge at Miami’s Florida International University made national news in mid-March. Now, the legal ramifications continue to emerge as families the families of victims take legal action in hopes of recovering compensation.
The 174-foot, 950-ton bridge section had been erected only five days earlier. When it collapsed, it killed six people and crashed onto cars traveling underneath it.
The UniversityCity Bridge was built with federal grant money and connected the campus with the town of Sweetwater, where many students live and where a new apartment complex called University Bridge Residences was about to break ground. Designs made the structure look like a cable-stayed bridge, in which cables attached to a tower support its deck.
However, the pylon had not yet been built. The project proposal stated that each of the spans should have been self-supporting, and the pylons that were to come would provide extra support. The bridge, in its final form, should have been able to withstand hurricanes. Instead, it collapsed less than a week after opening to the public.
Over the past several weeks, engineers have pointed to several possible problems that could have caused the accident. For example, a few days before, an engineer alerted local officials to cracks in the concrete, but said they were not an immediate safety issue. There was a meeting to discuss those cracks just hours before the collapse occurred. Some aspect of the concrete work could have been a factor.
Engineers have also suggested that the crews working on the bridge simply did not have the skills or training necessary to build it as intended. The design used some advanced techniques and technologies requiring special skills on the part of construction workers.
The construction process itself also may have played a role. The construction company used an accelerated bridge construction technique, which meant some pieces were built off-site before being brought in and hoisted into place. This method has been used successfully across the country, but whenever any construction happens off-site, there’s a chance something could go wrong during transit.
To learn more about your options if you’ve been involved in a serious accident, speak with a knowledgeable Bradenton personal injury attorney at Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez & Walsh.