FDOT: Engineer left voicemail about cracks in FIU pedestrian bridge days before collapse
An engineer left a voicemail with the Florida Department of Transportation about cracks in the concrete span in the pedestrian bridge at FIU two days before it collapsed and killed at least six people.
Denney Pate, FIGG’s lead engineer for the FIU pedestrian bridge project, called FDOT to report cracks on the north end of the span. FDOT said the voicemail was left on a landline Tuesday and wasn't heard by the employee until Friday since he was out of the office on assignment.
FDOT released the full transcript on Friday, which is written below:
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. 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. At any rate, I wanted to chat with you about that because I suspect at some point that’s gonna get to your desk. So, uh, at any rate, call me back when you can. Thank you. Bye.
Although Pate reported on the cracks, it's still unclear what exactly caused the bridge to collapse.
On Wednesday, an FDOT consultant received a phone call from a Bolton Perez & Associates employee, notifying him of a midday meeting scheduled for Thursday with Pate and other members of the FIU design build team responsible for the project, according to FDOT. The consultant went to the meeting -- which took place shortly before the bridge collapsed -- and wasn't warned about any "life-safety issues, need for additional road closures or requests from any other assistance from FDOT."
The department also said Friday that it issued a blanket permit at the request of FIU’s design build team to close SW 8th Street during the bridge's installation on Saturday, March 10.
"While FDOT has issued, following a request from the FIU design build team, a blanket permit allowing for two-lane closures effective from January through April, at no time, from installation until the collapse of the bridge, did FDOT receive a request to close the entire road," the department said. "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."
However, FDOT said their standard safety procedure dictates the department would issue a permit for partial or full road closure if the FIU design build team felt it was necessary and requested it, or if FIU contracted construction inspector for structural testing.
FIGG Bridge Engineers issued this statement Friday night:
FIGG Bridge Engineers, Inc., continues to work diligently with the construction team to help determine the cause of the collapse of the pedestrian bridge that was under construction at Florida International University. We are heartbroken by the loss of life and injuries, and are carefully examining the steps that our team has taken in the interest of our overarching concern for public safety. The evaluation was based on the best available information at that time and indicated that there were no safety issues. We will pursue answers to find out what factors led to this tragic situation, but it is important that the agencies responsible for investigating this devastating situation are given the appropriate time in order to accurately identify what factors led to the accident during construction. We are committed to working with all appropriate authorities throughout this process.
The investigation into the collapse is still ongoing.