The two firms responsible for building Florida International University’s “instant bridge,” which suddenly collapsed Thursday and left six people dead, are coming under increased scrutiny as details emerge of past engineering failures and inspection fines — including a recent accusation that one hired “unskilled” and “careless” workers.
The $14.2-million pedestrian bridge was supposed to open next year to help students cross a busy road adjacent to the campus. It was an accelerated, joint construction effort by two Florida companies: MCM Construction, a Miami-based contractor, and Figg Bridge Design, based in Tallahassee, who both have worked on dozens of projects nationwide, ranging from military facilities to schools.
“Innovations take a design firm into an area where they don’t have applicable experience, and then we have another unexpected failure on our hands,” Robert Bea, a professor of engineering and construction management at the University of California, Berkeley, told the Associated Press after reviewing the bridge’s design — and the pile of rubble it was reduced to on Thursday afternoon.
As state and federal investigators worked Friday to determine how and why the five-day-old span failed, one factor may have been the stress test Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said crews were conducting on the span. Two workers were on the 950-ton bridge when it pancaked on top of vehicles waiting at a stoplight.
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