Florida DOT announces plans to replace collapsed FIU pedestrian bridge

May 7, 2020

New plans incorporate additional enhanced safety measures, including NTSB recommendations

The Florida DOT (FDOT) announced yesterday its plan to design and build a pedestrian bridge on S.R. 90/SW 8 Street at SW 109 Avenue in Miami-Dade County along the Florida International University (FIU) campus, replacing the structure that collapsed and killed six people back in March 2018.

FDOT says it will manage and oversee all aspects of the project, and the new plans incorporate additional enhanced safety measures, including the recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

“FDOT has learned valuable lessons since the tragic events surrounding the FIU bridge collapse two years ago," FDOT Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, P.E., said in a statement. "The department has worked closely with the NTSB and local partners to ensure proactive safety measures are included in the plans for this much-needed bridge. The department will ensure all safety measures are in place and are followed so we may provide a safe option for pedestrians in this high-traffic area.”

Back in October 2019, the NTSB determined that the probable cause of the original pedestrian bridge's collapse was due to load and capacity calculation errors made by designer FIGG Bridge Engineers Inc. After its investigation into the collapse, the NTSB issued 11 safety recommendations, including five issued to FDOT. This included the recommendation that FDOT revise its Plans Preparation Manual to require that the qualified independent peer review for category 2 bridge structures include checking and verifying the design calculations used for all nodal forces. It also recommended procedural implementations to specify that when structural cracks are initially detected during bridge construction, that the parties responsible for the bridge work immediately close the bridge to construction personnel and close the roadway underneath it as well as restrict pedestrian and vehicular traffic on the bridge itself. 

In the summer of 2019, six companies settled lawsuits with the survivors and families of the victims of the bridge's collapse.

FDOT says its safety measures include changes to its interactions with project sponsors and the processes the department employs relating to major local agency program (LAP) projects. The department says it is working closely with local partners, including the city of Sweetwater and FIU, to provide pedestrians a safe and accessible crossing to and from the university.

The Modesto A. Maidique Campus of FIU is located on the south side of S.R. 90/SW 8 Street just west of SW 107 Avenue. Student housing and residential towers are located on the north side of the road within the city of Sweetwater. In June 2017, an FIU student was struck and killed while crossing the road at SW 109 Avenue, prompting local and state officials to seek ways to address pedestrian safety.

FDOT says design of the new bridge will begin in early 2021 and is expected to last two years. FDOT will coordinate with FIU regarding aesthetics for the bridge. Construction of the replacement bridge will take approximately two years.



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