Engineers noted crack in Florida bridge before fatal collapse

By Ben Hooper Contact the Author   |  March 17, 2018 at 12:49 PM
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March 17 (UPI) -- The Florida Department of Transportation received a voicemail from an engineer reporting a crack in a pedestrian bridge two days before it collapsed.

Denney Pate, a lead engineer with the FIGG Bridge Group, left a voicemail with the Florida Department of Transportation reporting "some cracking" in the structure at Miami's Florida International University two days before its Thursday collapse, but the voicemail was not heard any anyone with the department until Friday.

Pate said in the voicemail that, despite the cracking, there did not appear to be any issues "from a safety perspective.

"Obviously the cracking is not good and something's going to have to be, ya know, done to repair that," Pate said.

The bridge collapsed Thursday afternoon, killing at least six people.

FIU revealed in a statement early Saturday that the design build team of FIGG and MCM Construction held a meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday, hours before the collapse, to discuss the crack in the structure.

"The FIGG engineer of record delivered a technical presentation regarding the crack and concluded that there were no safety concerns and the crack did not compromise the structural integrity of the bridge. This meeting lasted approximately two hours and included FIU and FDOT representatives," the statement said.

Reports indicate the bridge, which was due to open in 2019, may have been undergoing stress testing at the time of the collapse.

"If this is the case, why was the road underneath open during the stress test," CBS News quoted Florida state Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami, as asking on Friday.

FDOT officials said the agency would likely have issued a permit for a partial or full closing of the road under the bridge if FIU had notified them of plans to conduct stress testing.

Crews were working to adjust cables running inside a diagonal beam at the north end of the bridge at the time of the collapse, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

Investigators are still probing the cause of the collapse and are looking into whether the cracking contributed to the incident.

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