MIAMI, Florida (News4Utah) – A pedestrian bridge stretching across a street on the Florida International University campus in Miami collapsed Thursday afternoon, killing multiple people, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
The newly constructed bridge was touted to be a first-of-its-kind in a press release from the school.
According to an FIU press release, the 174-foot, 950-ton bridge was just installed “in a few hours” using “accelerated bridge construction” methods, which the university said “reduces potential risks to workers, commuters, and pedestrians and minimizes traffic interruptions.”
After investigating News4Utah learned this method, called “Accelerated Bridge Construction” has been used by the Utah Department of Transportation for years.
More than 200 bridges have used ABC method according to Chief Structural Engineer Carmen Swanwick. Although the process is different at every site. It’s essentially when crews build the the bridge next to where it will be. Once finished it only takes a day or two to put into place.
The main purpose of the method is to avoid traffic congestion.
“They didn’t want to be impacted to traffic, and congestion during bridge construction,” said Swanwick. “So the program just developed from that need.”
The process has been used in Utah for about 15 years. With so many expansion projects along the Wasatch Front it has allowed UDOT an opportunity to do ABC more than any other state.
This tragedy hits home for Swanwick because in 2017, the Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center at FIU held an in-depth web training on the program which she hosted.
Swanwick notes the building method doesn’t impact the safety of the bridge, and said it has more to do with inspections.
UDOT Spokesperson John Gleason said they do a series of inspections from planning to completion to make sure everything is up to standards.
“We have a lot of processes that are in place to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen,” said Gleason, “It’s a very rigorous review process throughout.”
Swanwick said she can’t speculate on what may have happened to cause the bridge to collapse. Like everyone else she said they will have to wait and see what the investigation reveals.