Several weeks ago, we discussed the collapse of the pedestrian bridge under construction near Florida International University in Miami. Like many people in Florida and across the country, you were probably shocked and saddened to hear about the tragedy. You may have also wanted to know what exactly caused the collapse and who is liable.
To recap the accident for you, on March 15, a 950-ton section of the bridge broke free and fell onto the street below. The concrete and steel crushed several cars stopped at a red light, killing five passengers. One construction crew member also suffered fatal injuries.
Accident has resulted in lawsuits
You may also be aware that in the days preceding the accident, there was concern about cracks that were showing up along the bridge’s supports. The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an extensive investigation on the circumstances surrounding the bridge collapse, which the agency doesn’t expect to complete for another year or two. Until then, federal officials have told spokespeople from the bridge design firm and the university not to talk about the accident. Some of the survivors or victims’ families have filed lawsuits against the construction companies.
Design might have been more aesthetic than functional
Several structural engineers recently examined what they knew about the bridge’s design and the accident and theorized that the bridge’s emphasis on aesthetics may have been partly to blame. Reportedly, steel pipes resembling support cables were decorative and provided no actual support. The engineers suggested that the bridge’s weight placed too much stress on only one diagonal support strut at the point where the cracks first appeared and where the section later collapsed. You may also be interested to learn that the aesthetic bridge was chosen over a simpler, more conventional design because it would add a sense of grandeur to university property. However, experts assert that aesthetics and safety are not mutually exclusive.
The purpose of the bridge was to increase pedestrian safety crossing a busy road, but ended in a fatal accident. It may take some time before the public discovers the cause, full ramifications and final outcome of this tragedy.