Miami bridge collapsed as cables were being tightened following 'stress test'

Posted March 17, 2018

"'We've determined there are no longer any survivors", said Miami-Dade Fire Chief Dave Downey, adding that they exhausted all of their search and rescue capabilities last night. Alvaro Zabaleta says the operation has turned from rescue to recovery.

The 950-ton bridge was rapidly installed a few days ago, created to provide students a safe passage over a busy street and link the university's main campus to a cluster of off-campus housing in Sweetwater, Florida, the Miami Herald reported. Since being founded in 1983, it has handled billions of dollars worth of projects in Panama, Florida and the U.S. Southeast. Marco Rubio joined other authorities at the scene.

"The road under the collapsed bridge is heavily used by so many people in #Miami This is such a horrifying tragedy", Sen.

Scott said an investigation would get to the bottom of "why this happened and what happened", and that if anyone did anything wrong, "we will hold them accountable".

The National Transportation Safety Board said on Twitter that it was sending a team to investigate the bridge collapse.

Another company, FIGG Bridge Engineers, which designed the pedestrian bridge stated: "We will fully cooperate with every appropriate authority in reviewing what happened and why".

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When finished, the bridge would have been supported from above, with a tall, off-center tower and cables attached to the walkway.

The death toll from the collapse of a pedestrian bridge has risen to at least six, Miami police said Friday as crews searched under the huge concrete slabs which fell onto a busy highway.

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.

- Rubio, who described the incident as "troubling and tragic", said the bridge was constructed for safety after a student died previous year crossing that intersection.

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. Figg is responsible for the famous Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay.

She and her husband, Jorge Fraga, said they received a call from a friend after the collapse saying that Jorge Fraga's uncle, Rolando Fraga, 60, had not been heard from since noon Thursday.

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"MCM is a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist", the company said in a statement on its website Thursday.

The bridge was being built to connect the school's campus to an adjoining neighborhood in Sweetwater, where numerous students live. That's when the span was lifted from its temporary supports, rotated 90 degrees across an eight-lane thoroughfare and lowered into its permanent position over the busy road.

Amjad Aref, a researcher at University at Buffalo's Institute of Bridge Engineering, told the Miami Herald that stress testing normally involves placing carefully calibrated weights on the span and measuring how the structure responds to ensure it's within safe parameters.

She said she saw one woman get out of a vehicle that was "just nicked" and rescue personnel performing life-saving CPR on another person in the street.

"Obviously, everybody is in shock here", said Mr. Rosenberg, who had been a public champion of the bridge project. "Now we're feeling enormous sadness, uncontrollable sadness".

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