17 Mar Miami Bridge Collapse: Engineer Didn’t See Issue With Cracks
TALLAHASSEE, FL — The lead engineer working on the collapsed Florida International University pedestrian bridge, reported cracking to state transportation officials two days before the tragedy but felt that there was no safety issue. The message was left in a voicemail that was not picked up until one day after the collapse killed six people. Florida officials also said on Friday night that they had not received any requests from the FIU design team to completely shut down SW 8th Street in the days since the bridge was spun into place last weekend.
"Hey Tom, this is Denney Pate with FIGG bridge engineers. Calling to, uh, share with you some information about the FIU pedestrian bridge and some cracking that’s been observed on the north end of the span, the pylon end of that span we moved this weekend," according to a transcript of the call that was released by the Florida Department of Transportation on Friday night.
"Um, so, uh, we’ve taken a look at it and, uh, obviously some repairs or whatever will have to be done but from a safety perspective we don’t see that there’s any issue there so we’re not concerned about it from that perspective although obviously the cracking is not good and something’s going to have to be, ya know, done to repair that," the call continued.
FDOT officials said that the voicemail was left on a landline, but the agency employee had been out of the office on assignment.
"When the employee returned to his office today, Friday, March 16, he was able to listen to the voicemail," according to the agency.
The engineer who left the voicemail works for project designer Figg Engineering. The message concluded by saying that the engineer anticipated the employee would become aware of the cracks at some point.
"At any rate, I wanted to chat with you about that because I suspect at some point that’s gonna get to your desk," the message said. "So, uh, at any rate, call me back when you can. Thank you. Bye."
FDOT also said that agency consultant Alfredo Reyna attended a meeting with the FIU design team hours before the collapse. The agency is routinely included in such meetings
"Reyna attended the meeting which occurred shortly before the bridge failure and collapse and was not notified of any life-safety issues," according to the agency.
FDOT said that it issued a permit at the request of FIU’s design build
team to close SW 8th Street during the installation of the FIU pedestrian bridge last Saturday. The agency issued a blanket permit allowing for two-lane closures between January and April.
"At no time, from installation until the collapse of the bridge, did FDOT receive a request to close the entire road," according to the agency. "The department was also not made aware by the FIU design build team of any scheduled ‘stress testing’ of the bridge following installation and has no knowledge or confirmation from FIU’s design build team of ‘stress testing’ occurring since installation."
The agency said that it routinely issues permits for "partial or full road closure" if deemed necessary for structural testing.
Listen to the voicemail regarding cracks in the FIU pedestrian bridge.
Photo courtesy Miami-Dade Police Department