A terrible tragedy in Florida is drawing attention to all the elements that can go wrong when constructing a bridge. The pedestrian bridge was not yet open when the bridge collapsed on March 15th, 2018, killing six people. Sadly, traffic was allowed to continue to pass under the bridge even while it was being built, putting lives in unnecessary danger.
As the rubble was cleared and the search for survivors continued, questions were posed as to the exact reason for the collapse. Video from dash-cams and cellphones was scoured for indications, and a variety of theories emerged, including:
- Over-tensioning of cables designed to hold the bridge in place
- An unsafe design resulting in the bridge being too heavy, due to utilizing concrete instead of structural steel for aesthetic reasons
- Last-minute changes that failed to be properly vetted
- Cutting corners due to the project being over budget and past schedule
One of the most compelling theories involves the utilization of a controversial method of bridge-building called ABC (Accelerated Bridge Construction). Designed to limit the length of road closures, this process involves utilizing pre-fabricated pieces that are put together at the site of the bridge. Connecting these pieces is a sensitive and dangerous work.
The university affected, Florida International, is heavily invested in ABC, and the pedestrian bridge was intended to be a showcase for the process. Instead, it has drawn attention to the potential dangers of using expedited processes in place of traditional methods that have been proven safe through decades of experience.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a bridge collapse, understanding what caused the bridge to fail can be difficult, especially when engineers sometimes struggle to agree. Please consider consulting with an experienced attorney who can help you obtain access to experts who can help you make your case.