The tragic irony behind 'quick-build' bridge that collapsed killing several people

The pedestrian bridge that collapsed at Florida International University killing several people was designed to be a quick build using newly-developed, accelerated construction techniques.

The university utilised a new modular construction method that would minimise traffic disruptions and reduce risks to workers and pedestrians while building the $14 million bridge, ABC in the US reported.

Firefighters have so far pulled out four bodies from the rubble following the collapse on Thursday (local time), with the death toll expected to rise, the Miami Herald reported.

The bridge collapsed on Thursday with police saying at least six people could be dead. Source: Getty
The bridge collapsed on Thursday with police saying at least six people could be dead. Source: Getty

According to a press release from the university, the 53-metre, 950-ton bridge was installed "in a few hours" on Saturday.

Construction teams used "accelerated bridge construction" methods, which the university said "reduces potential risks to workers, commuters, and pedestrians and minimizes traffic interruptions".

It was the first time in US history a bridge of its size was moved into place using the building methods, WCPO reported.

The bridge was designed to withstand a category 5 hurricane. Source: Getty
The bridge was designed to withstand a category 5 hurricane. Source: Getty

Funded by the US Department of Transportation, the bridge was designed to withstand a category 5 hurricane and its durability was expected to exceed 100 years.

Munilla Construction Management, one of the companies that constructed the bridge, said in a statement that it will conduct a "full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong" and that it will cooperate with investigators "in every way" possible.

"We will conduct a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and will cooperate with investigators on scene in every way," the company said.

According to the university, the bridge was installed in just a few hours. Source: FIU/ YouTube
According to the university, the bridge was installed in just a few hours. Source: FIU/ YouTube

The company has been accused of injuring an employee working at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after a makeshift bridge it built collapsed, Miami New Times reported.

Worker Jose Perez was walking on the bridge in October 2016 when it collapsed under his weight.

"They built this makeshift bridge in the area where all the employees work, and it was poorly done. He fell and hurt himself really badly... they did shoddy work," Mr Perez' lawyer, Tesha Allison, said.

Munilla has yet to respond to Perez's lawsuit in court.

It is not the first time the companies involved in its builds have come under fire for its construction methods. Source: FIU/ YouTube
It is not the first time the companies involved in its builds have come under fire for its construction methods. Source: FIU/ YouTube

Construction firm Figg, also involved in the Florida University (FIU) build were fined $28,000 when a 90-ton concrete portion of the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge fell 12 metres onto railroad tracks below in June 2012, the Virginian Pilot reported.

Four workers suffered minor injuries and state regulators said it was simply luck that no one was killed.


"Our deepest sympathies are with all those affected by this accident," the company said in a statement released after Thursday's incident.

"We will fully cooperate with every appropriate authority in reviewing what happened and why. In our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before."

Florida International University issued a statement saying it was gathering information on the incident and all efforts are currently involved in assisting the rescue.

Witnesses have described the collapse as feeling like an "earthquake" and as if "a bomb" had gone off.

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