March 15 2018 FIU Bridge Collapse

March 15, 2018 Miami Pedestrian Bridge Collapse

A 14.2 million dollar pedestrian bridge at Florida’s International University collapsed, March 15, 2018, killing six people and injuring 10.  The bridge was built to connect Florida International University with the city of Sweetwater, where many students live off campus.  It was designed to allow safe passage for students and faculty across heavy traffic and was referred to as the University City Bridge.

The 174 foot long bridge was hailed as the most modern innovation in bridge engineering of the 21st century and was assembled at the roadside so it would not interfere with traffic. The 950-ton bridge was then constructed in five days but was not set to open until early 2019.  Time Magazine reported that the bridge was a source of pride for the University, the second largest in the State of Florida and the community.

The FIU bridge tragedy is eerily reminiscent of the Titanic which was so modern, so technologically advanced, that it was thought to be indestructible. Instead, it sunk in 2 hours and 40 minutes killing 1500 people. The pedestrian bridge was a marvel. It was the first bridge to span eight lanes of traffic and was constructed entirely of self -cleaning concrete.  According to CNN, the bridge was designed to withstand a category five hurricane.

Eye witnesses say it sounded like hundreds of bombs exploding as the bridge sunk, concrete, spilled onto the highway pining some drivers in their cars.

No one is certain about why the FIU pedestrian bridge crumbled. According to a filed lawsuit, “post-tensioning,” meaning the adjustment of the tension rods on the bridge was responsible for the crash.  A lead engineer FIGG (the company constructing the bridge) left a message at Florida’s Department of Transportation days before the bridge went down, saying there were cracks, but they were not a safety hazard.  It has not been concluded yet if these cracks were responsible for the bridge’s downfall.

FIU Bridge Collapse Lawsuits

Payouts from the lawsuits could be substantial. So far, Marquise Hepburn, a 24-year-old cyclist who was hit by a car during the bridge’s collapse and caught in the rubble filed suit, as did Emily Joy Panagos an FIU student, Richard Humble 18, who was a passenger in Alexa Duran’s car.  Alexa Duran died under the tonnage of steel and concrete as did Ronald Frager, 60 years. The Duran family filed a wrongful death suit.  Richard Humble like others, found themselves suddenly pinned under vast slabs of concrete.

FIU and The Florida Department of Transportation are not named as defendants in the cases as they must be given six months notice that there will be a lawsuit.

The Florida International University pedestrian bridge collapse is a high profile case that has garnered international attention.  What happens to ordinary individuals who have a life-changing accident and no income while they await trial?

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