Almost three years after pedestrian bridge near FIU collapsed killing 6, FDOT set to oversee new design

Florida International University Bridge collapse – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by pleasecat

Redemption may soon be on the horizon for construction crews in South Florida nearly three years after a pedestrian bridge connecting Florida International University and Sweetwater’s downtown community collapsed during routine testing and a faulty design, claiming six innocent lives.

That date was March 15, 2018.

A bridge that would have connected the fourth-largest public university in the country to a nearby downtown area in Southwest Miami-Dade County suddenly collapsed in the afternoon hours of the day, trapping vehicles under the bridge who were waiting at the traffic signal just below. The collapse killed 5 passengers, one construction worker working on the bridge, and injured 10 others.

In a meeting last week, Florida International University’s Board of Trustees approved a $9.1 million transfer to the Florida Department of Transportation. The state agency is set to be in charge of overseeing the design and construction of the new bridge, as reported by the Miami Herald.    

The bridge will maintain its intended use of providing a pedestrian walkway to connect students from the university to the downtown area of the community, eliminating the need to cross the dangerous 8th Street avenue down below. 

Reports from the Herald show that FIU received the $9.1 million total from multiple sources, including: $8.5 million from the settlement with contractors from the failed overpass, roughly $560,000 of the school’s original match funding, and another $5,560 in match funds from the nearby City of Sweetwater.

It is expected that the new bridge will exceed the original bridge’s budget by roughly $2 million more. In May of 2020, the university planned to use an additional $3.3 million in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants and other unused state grants to help finance the rest. That would leave the new bridge cost around $14.6 million. 

FDOT awarded $21 million in federal funds for the project the first time around but put the finances on hold after it fell.

It wasn’t until last year that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave FIU access to the funds once again. He also authorized FDOT to “accept responsibility for completing the new bridge and administering the design and construction contracts,” per the school’s board of trustee’s resolution approved in the meeting.

All eyes will be on the crew that is given the green light to begin construction on the new pedestrian bridge. The original debris took several days to clear, given the investigation process that ensued.

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