FIU bridge collapse: FDOT’s role may have been bigger

Miami Herald, NBC6 Miami discover more clues that point to the agency being more involved

October 23, 2018
Bridge collapse, bridge design, bridge construction

Nobody wants a starring role in this spotlight, but it looks like the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) was far from the understudy it claims to be in regards to the FIU bridge collapse back in March.

According to NBC6 Miami, FDOT engineer Thomas Andres wrote to the design-build team in 2016 that he had concerns regarding the pedestrian bridge’s structural integrity. He believed it was vulnerable to cracking. The FIU bridge dropped on live traffic on March 15 and killed six. Photos released months after the collapse show severe cracking prior to the span going down. FDOT also claims Andres was not in the office the day FIGG bridge engineer W. Denney Pate left a voice message about cracking observed, but a copy of a calendar obtained by the Miami Herald revealed Andres was on duty.

FDOT has called itself just a bystander since the day of the collapse, limited to issuing traffic permits, conducting a routine preliminary review and acting as a “pass-through” for federal funding.

Shortly after the collapse, FIU officials exchanged heated emails with FDOT when the state agency outlined its role in the tragedy. FIU believes the public has been “misinformed” when it comes to FDOT’s involvement.

The NTSB is still working through its investigation on the collapse, and it may not be until 2019 before it is made public. In early October, a federal judge blocked the Miami Herald’s attempt to obtain internal FDOT documents in the days leading up to the collapse.