The Miami Herald has reportedly obtained documents from Florida International University (FIU) through a public records request that indicate cracks were observed in the newly installed campus pedestrian bridge two weeks before its deadly collapse.
Photographs and an internal email that had initially been unintentionally released, according to the Herald, revealed that project officials detected cracks at the base of a diagonal support member on Feb. 28, 10 days prior to installation and 15 days before the bridge fell, crushing vehicles and killing six people.
In a Feb. 28 memo obtained by the Herald, a consulting engineer for FIU noted one crack in particular "merits special attention." The engineer urged that the bridge engineer of record be consulted "to provide a response." That engineer of record is W. Denney Pate of FIGG Bridge Group, which designed the bridge. The memo was sent to a project manager at Munilla Construction Management, the bridge project's builder, and copied to a construction project manager at FIU, and other members of the project team.
The cracks were reportedly located at the spot where the bridge failed, at the base of a diagonal support member at the north end of the span. Three independent engineers who examined the photos, records and bridge blueprints at the Herald's request concurred the cracks were a red flag signaling potentially critical structural problems. One engineer indicated to the Herald that cracks were signs of "imminent failure," leaving the construction and design team with the only option of executing a complete redesign.
Outside experts determined the truss member was not strong enough to withstand the pressure from the weight of the bridge it was supposed to hold up. All the engineers interviewed by the Herald emphasized that a clear-cut cause for the collapse may not be established until the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) publishes its conclusions, and that their analysis could change based on new information.
Source: Miami Herald / Construction Dive