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FDOT warned about FIU bridge cracking 2 days before fatal collapse - but didn't hear voicemail

FDOT warned about FIU bridge cracking
FDOT warned about FIU bridge cracking
Posted at 8:57 PM, Mar 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-17 02:38:31-04

The Florida Department of Transportation announced the agency was warned about cracking in the Florida International University pedestrian bridge, two days before it collapsed, killing at least six people, but they didn't listen to the voicemail until Friday. 


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The following voicemail was left on a landline Tuesday by W. Denney Pate, FIGG's lead engineer responsible for the FIU pedestrian bridge project:

"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."

According to FDOT, the voicemail was left on a landline and not heard by an FDOT employee until Friday, March 16 as the employee was out of the office on assignment. When the employee returned to his office on Friday, he was able to listen to the voicemail.

Additionally, FDOT says that they issued a permit at the request of FIU's design build team for a two-lane closures from January through April. However, they say at no time did they receive a request to close the entire road. FDOT says they were also not made aware by the FIU design build team of any scheduled "stress testing" of the bridge following installation.

FDOT also released the following statement:

The responsibility to identify and address life-safety issues and properly communicate them is the sole responsibility of the FIU design build team. At no point during any of the communications above did FIGG or any member of the FIU design build team ever communicate a life-safety issue. Again, FIGG and the FIU design build team never alerted FDOT of any life-safety issue regarding the FIU pedestrian bridge prior to collapse.
The tragic failure and collapse of the pedestrian bridge at FIU is the subject of an active and ongoing investigation led by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as well as local and state law enforcement investigations. As FDOT assists in these investigations, we will continue our internal review and release all pertinent information as quickly as possible while ensuring its accuracy. 

Following FDOT's announcement, FIGG Bridge Engineers, Inc. said it was working with the construction team to figure out whey the bridge fell.

FIGG released the following statement:

“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 National Transportation Safety Board will lead the federal inquiry, and a team of investigators arrived Thursday night.