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Friday, March 16, 2018

Collapsed bridge, courtesy of Obama program

"This project is an outstanding example of the ABC method," the press release about Florida International Universit' s pedestrian bridge touted on Saturday.

On Wednesday, the bridge collapsed, killing six people.

The Miami Herald reported, "A pedestrian bridge under construction collapsed Thursday, just days after crews had dropped an elevated 950-ton span in place on a signature project that was intended to give Florida International University students a safe route across the busy roadway."

The $14 million project was partly federally funded through Obama's Tiger program (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery).

"The 174-foot, 950-ton section of the bridge was built adjacent to Southwest Eight Street using Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) methods, which are being advanced at FIU’s Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center (ABC-UTC). This method of construction reduces potential risks to workers, commuters and pedestrians and minimizes traffic interruptions. The main span of the FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity Bridge was installed in a few hours with limited disruption to traffic over this weekend," the press release said.

It went up quickly.

It came down even quicker.

University President Mark Rosenberg defended the bridge installation.

"I have not spoken directly to Munilla Construction, but I am satisfied that the testing that was occurring was consistent with best practices. I’m not an engineer, so I'm not privy to those details. I know that tests occurred today. And I know, I believe, that they did not prove to lead anyone to the conclusion that we would have this kind of a result. But I do not know that as a fact," the Miami Herald reported Rosenberg said.

What is interesting is the project took five years from the time the federal government approved the grant in 2013 until it was installed on Saturday. What was the rush? As it is "an outstanding example of the ABC method," let us never use this method again.

Christian Britschgi at Reason magazine wrote, "On 2013, the FIU was awarded $11.4 million in TIGER money for its University City Prosperity Project, which included the pedestrian bridge. Some 52 projects were awarded $458 million in that round of TIGER grants—known as TIGER V—using methodology that was later criticized by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for violating DOT's own standards."

Both parties milked the program for all it was worth, Britschgi said.

He quoted Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz gushing over the project in 2013.

She said, "More jobs will be created in our community thanks to this grant, and I look forward to celebrating the project's success with everyone in South Florida."

What we need now is a review, and not just to find out why it collapsed.

Who approved the project? Who oversaw it? Who designed the bridge? Who inspected it? Who tested it? Who signed off on allowing traffic to flow beneath it?

And the biggest question of all is who goes to jail for this?

Engineers know there is no such thing as an accident. This was not deliberate, but it was not an act of God.

It was an act of men. Incompetent ones.


  1. As a lawyer for one of the injured you would sue every possible defendant and let them sort it out amongst themselves as to how to apportion the blame.

    Classic res ipsa loquitur case.

  2. ABD - Accelerated Bridge Destruction
    The next time they want TEST a bridge, make sure no one is beneath it while it is being tested

  3. You have probably heard about the collapse of a pedestrian bridge at FIU in Miami today. I was researching who the builder is, I stumbled across an article from yesterday celebrating the bridge’s construction.

    Key quote from the female engineer/project executive, Leonor Flores (speaking about teaching her daughter that women can go into STEM):

    “It’s very important for me as a woman and an engineer to be able to promote that to my daughter, because I think women have a different perspective. We’re able to put in an artistic touch and we’re able to build, too.”

    Key quote from the female engineer/project executive, Leonor Flores (speaking about teaching her daughter that women can go into STEM).

    Diversity hires may be done in some fields, but in engineering it will get people killed.

    1. (FIU is a state school in Florida, but they essentially refuse to integrate or collaborate with other schools close to them that are absolute experts on engineering -- FAU and UF Tampa are examples that have had DoD contracts since the 80's. Many STEM departments at state universities don't even know they exist because of their isolation)

    2. I saw where the two engineering firms have experienced collapsed bridges before.

      Thank you low bid, quota hiring.

    3. FIU have taken the video down and are now denying its existence. Somebody urgently needs to bring it back as it illustrates WHO was responsible for the design-build team. PLEASE if anyone has this video do not sell out to the university censoring you as justice needs to be served!

  4. "Over engineering" when out with Sea Foam Green 1951 Pontiac's and straight 8's. Think about it.

    Now, consider that IF the bridge had of met minimal load ratings for normal use (people walking on top), what would have happened under hurricane loads and gusts? How about those cables expanding, and slacking (they already were expanding yesterday) when it really gets hot in August.

    I can guaran-damn-tee that with a 120-140 mph wind that bridge would have been destroyed--two or three times over.

    I suppose that if Miami-Dade "over engineer" building codes, that were adopted after hurricane Andrew for most residential buildings on the east coast of Florida, had been applied to this pork project it may still be there.

    Those codes are absolutely hated by builders, and raise costs, but they usually rely on old school over engineering--decreasing fastener spacing/increasing fastener diameter, material quality/fitment increases, and the like.

    We'll just have to see what happened, but whatever comes out it will likely border on the stupid. We saw that on Valentines day.

  5. Per DWS more jobs were created: first responders, medics, tort lawyers, family councilors and forensic engineers just to name a few.


  6. Come on, people. It is not known at this point why the bridge collapsed.
    It could be due to faulty design, faulty construction materials, or faulty construction.
    Improper, incomplete, or falsified testing may have prevented deficiencies to come to light before the bridge was put into use.
    The failure will probably be some combination of the above.
    Mike A., retired engineer

    1. And some firm(s) will get the job to determine how and why it failed.

    2. Glad I don't have my PE stamp on the blueprints....

    3. It is not known at this point why cars were allowed to pass under this structure still under construction and undergoing stress tests.

  7. I have yet to read an account of what work was remaining to be done with the bridge construction. In fact, a lot remained. This bridge was designed as a suspension bridge. Per some promotional videos seen on the web, the bridge was to have a single tower with cables supporting the length of the bridge walkway. Why was the builder allowed to install the unsupported walkway part of the bridge without providing temporary structure to carry the load? Someone deserves to hang for this.

  8. Atta boy Donnie. Bodies are still being recovered from a most unfortunate tragedy and you just have to politicize it for click bait. Stay Classy there in Pokey WV

    1. Yeah, because you scum blaming it on Trump aren't political at all.

    2. Really, Mr Surber, how could you--alone out of all the media and bloggers out there--dare to mention this project's source of funding, its start date, and all those other political details? Next tims, just the facts, please!
      Oh, those were just the facts? Never mind!
      --Emily Litella

    3. I fail to see how Don's post politicizes this tragedy. Obama is mentioned only in passing, but not personally criticized, only in so far as to provide context that the TIGER program is not a Trump initiative. The post limits its criticism to the TIGER program itself. Wassermann-Schultz is also cited in a quote that Don took from a Reason magazine article, which provides background material that's relevant to an understanding of the history of this bridge project, including the GAO's criticism of the faulty methodology that was supposedly used in the construction of this bridge.

      I'd say your resort to name calling is uncalled for. It strikes me you are being far more defensive in protecting the former president than circumstances warrant.

    4. Iaep - It strikes me that you Surbots are more offensive in attacking the former president that circumstances warrant.

    5. Why, we're just "punching back twice as hard". What could be wrong with that?

  9. Why didn't they just build a pedestrian underpass?

    1. Geography. The pedestrian underpass would require scuba gear

  10. An 'Agile' process, applied to bridge construction. What could go wrong?

  11. Another "shovel ready" job, brought to you by The Black Jesus.

  12. Rush quoted Don by name on this topic today. More water in An the Mole's hole.

  13. Here is a good article about the bridge collapse with some interesting comments, including this one:

    --Grrl Power/Diversity bridge design:
    From Jim Stone:

    From the looks of the photos however, it appears to me that it was a common core design, with stylistic rather than working truss members. If an old schooler had built this, all the columns between the top and bottom sections would have been in perfectly symmetrical V shapes, rather than what we have here. And if you look at the first and second ones in from the left, they provided absolutely no strength, and that is where the bridge failed. It is a mystery how this ever got approved, it means the bridge architects and engineers were unilaterally incompetent, with fully incompetent state inspectors, the entire decision chain at the company, state, and local level was completely incompetent. This should have been rejected the second it hit the state inspector’s desk.--

  14. So much for "bridges not walls"

  15. Now we need to ban bridges.

  16. Accelerated Bridge Construction is not to blame for this - it's simply a variant of prefabrication, which has been used for more than a century.

    The errors will turn on a lack of proper inspection, and the [perhaps corrupt] decision to use as primary contractors two firms with substantial problems in the past as regards safety.

    I expect the investigation will not only hold the contractors responsible, but also state and local inspectors.

  17. Incompetent women actually it appears.
    Also,, the assymetry is supposed to be there as there were supposed to be cables attached to the tops of those support beams, from a tower that was not yet built? Yet, they left the span sit there unsupported while they were supposedly going to build the tower and then attach the cables?? I am not an engineer yet my upbringing of helping my father and grandfather build houses and lay cement block and pour concrete and set trusses lets me just eyeball this thing and realize the utter stupidity on display here from the top down. Did no one on this entire crew look at this and say "you know there is no way this will stay up more than a day"??