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Road should have been closed before FIU bridge collapse, top Florida road engineer told NTSB

Monique O. Madan, Rene Rodriguez and Andres Viglucci, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

"The events of March 15, 2018, were, by any measure, a tragedy. However, contrary to incomplete prior accident updates, the design of the UniversityCity Pedestrian Bridge at Florida International University was neither the proximate cause, nor a contributing cause, of the construction accident," FIGG said in its 344-page submission to the NTSB. "If, however, the various parties constructing the bridge, inspecting the construction, or moving the bridge into position, fail to comply with (plans, specifications, and requirements), then even a safe design will be compromised."

In June, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration also issued a damning 115-page report that unequivocally stated the roadway under the bridge should have been closed after the discovery of the cracks.

The FDOT changes announced Monday were made to the Local Agency Program, or LAP, manual, the document that establishes "consistent and uniform practices" for local agencies using FDOT funds for their projects.

Other changes: The FDOT implemented Florida Statute Section 334.175 into its LAP manual. That statute requires all design plans and surveys to be certified by the responsible architect, engineer, surveyor or landscape architect, who must also be registered in Florida.

The Statute also requires FDOT to review design plans to ensure they are in compliance of departmental standards before a project is put out for contract.

On more complex projects, such as the FIU pedestrian bridge, an FDOT manager will be assigned to focus exclusively on those projects to increase the department's involvement and ensure better communications between project consultants and FDOT management.

 

Although the LAP manual on the FDOT website indicates the document was revised on September 2019, an FDOT spokesperson did not reply to requests by The Miami Herald to specify what portions had been amended.

NTSB board members will hear final investigation findings during a public hearing to be held Oct. 22 in Washington, D.C. The board is expected to announce the probable cause of the collapse and issue its final safety recommendations.

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