Georgia Department of Transportation contractors used a similar method for a  bridge in Dade County crossing over Interstate 24 as the pedestrian bridge in Florida 
    The bridge was constructed without impacting traffic. 
    It's important to note the bridge in Miami used a separate contractor and the two bridges are very different.
    But they both used a method to shorten the construction time and minimize traffic impact.

READ MORE | UPDATE: Bridge over I-24 now open

    We've reached out to GDOT for comment about this type of construction method and if they will further inspect this bridge but have not yet heard back.
 


UPDATE: by ALEX JOHNSON

The pedestrian walkway that collapsed Thursday in Miami, killing at least six people, was being built using a popular but relatively new bridge technology specifically designed to speed construction while maintaining safety.

It took only six hours on Saturday to install the 174-foot pedestrian walkway, part of the 320-foot-long FIU-Sweetwater University City Bridge project at Florida International University, which had been scheduled for completion early next year. The project was to have included 9,900 feet of event space that didn't cross the roadway.

Under a method called accelerated bridge construction, which the university helped popularize beginning in 2010, the entire walkway was built by the side of Southwest Eighth Street, a seven-lane highway, and was driven into its perpendicular position across the road in just six hours, the university said.

It was the largest U.S. pedestrian bridge to have been moved that way and the first in the world to have been built from so-called self-cleaning concrete, which grabs pollutants from the air, the university said.

This project is an outstanding example of the ABC method," Atorod Azizinamini, chairman of the university's civil and environmental engineering department, told the university's news service when the walkway was erected Saturday. "Building the major element of the bridge — its main span superstructure — outside of the traveled way and away from busy Eighth Street is a milestone."

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has taught politics classes at the university for several years, formally asked the U.S. Transportation Department to review the bridge's "design, construction, and ultimate failure."

"What safety standards are in place to ensure speed does not compromise safety in accelerated bridge construction?" he asked in a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. "What materials, and from what sources, were used in bridge construction? What, if any, safety procedures were not followed in this instance?"

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., who represents part of Miami in the U.S. House, said the engineering company monitoring the project, BDI of Louisville, Colorado, "is super well-renowned, so that is why this is beyond shocking."

BDI said in a statement that it was "deeply saddened" by the collapse.

Munilla Construction Management of Miami, a prominent firm with numerous multimillion-dollar construction contracts in the region, said it was "devastated" and would conduct a full investigation.

Just 10 days ago, Munilla was sued in state circuit court in Miami by a worker for the Transportation Security Administration, who claimed that he was injured in October 2016 when a temporary bridge collapsed at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, where Munilla is in charge of a $128 million expansion project.

The complaint, which was obtained by NBC News, accuses Munilla of "shoddy" work. Tesha Allison, a lawyer for the plaintiff, Jose Perez, said he suffered broken bones and spinal injuries.

State and federal court records list several other actions against Munilla, which isn't unusual for large, successful construction companies. The company has a strong reputation within the industry and has worked for major clients, like Southwest Airlines and the cities of Miami and Dallas, according to Construction News, an industry trade journal.

A Fort Lauderdale airport spokesman said Thursday that no changes to Munilla's contract were planned.

The co-designer of the Florida International University project, Figg Bridge Group of Tallahassee, Florida, said it would fully cooperate with any investigation.

"In our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before," Figg said in a statement.

Figg also designed the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge, a four-mile-long section of Interstate 275 in the Tampa-St. Petersburg region that opened in 1987, and co-designed the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge in Boston, which opened in 2003.

In a statement, the Massachusetts Transportation Department said the design of the Zakim Bridge was different from the design of the FIU bridge. The agency said it was "fully confident in the safety of the Zakim Bridge."

While the specific design may be different, both projects were built under the accelerated protocol. Accelerated construction ideas have been used for many years, but they weren't formalized until 2010 with the establishment of the Center for Accelerated Bridge Construction at FIU, in partnership with Iowa State University and the University of Nevada at Reno. The University of Washington and the University of Oklahoma joined the program in 2016 under a federal grant.

In accelerated construction, most or all of a bridge project is fabricated off-site and then put into place all at once, ideally disrupting traffic for only a few hours or days.

The protocol "can improve safety to workers and the public," Seema Javeri, a traffic operations and work zone safety manager for the Federal Highway Administration, said in a web conference on the technology in 2013.

"It's safer since construction workers are not working near active traffic for days on end, as with traditional approaches," Javeri said. "It saves the traveling public time in traffic delays and road closures, and it reduces construction season and time. With cost savings, there's improved quality of the product, and the accelerated project times can potentially reduce project costs."

While it's only a few years old, the technique has been widely adopted by governments and industry organizations alarmed by the delays, costs and safety hazards of building new bridges and repairing old ones, which traditionally has meant closing jampacked roads and highways for months.

It is behind numerous high-profile bridge projects in recent years, including:

A bridge over Interstate 15 in Mesquite, Nevada, which the Federal Highway Administration says was put in place in just six hours in January 2012.

Replacement of the Cedar Street Bridge over Route 9 in Wellesley, Massachusetts, which was completed in 62 hours in mid-2011.

Rehabilitation of the F.W. Cappelen Memorial Bridge, a five-span arch bridge carrying Franklin Avenue over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. The rehabilitated bridge reopened last year.

"Today, ABC projects have been completed successfully, or are underway, in 44 states, with Utah, Texas, Massachusetts, Vermont and Pennsylvania leading the way," HNTB Corp., a prominent architectural and engineering firm based in Kansas City, Missouri, said in a 2016 white paper.


PREVIOUS STORY:

by PHIL MCCAUSLAND

A pedestrian walkway that was still under construction collapsed onto a busy highway in Miami on Thursday, killing at least four people.

The Florida Highway Patrol said multiple vehicles were crushed by the span near Florida International University's campus, when it came down at around 1:30 p.m.

According to Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue, there were workers on the bridge and several cars underneath.

At a press conference Thursday evening, Miami-Dade Fire Chief Dave Downey said that at least four people were killed by the collapse. The deceased had not yet been identified. Rescue operations remained ongoing, he said.

"We're going to continue to search this pile until we are sure that there’s no other survivors," Downey said.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Division Chief Paul Estopinan had earlier said emergency workers found eight vehicles trapped under the bridge. He noted that authorities planned to continue search and rescue throughout the night.

"We could only see eight [vehicles] from the exterior of the bridge," Estopinan said, adding that he did not know how many total cars might be affected. "We are creating holes just so that we can physically see [if there are others]."

Related: ‘No, it can’t be!’ Witnesses describe horror of Florida bridge collapse

Urban search and rescue teams were on the scene with live search dogs, heavy equipment and four cranes, officials said.

Ten patients were brought to the Kendall Regional Medical Center after the accident, the hospital said: Two were in critical condition and eight suffered minor injuries that ranged from bruises to broken bones.

The walkway weighed 950 tons and was 174 feet long, according to FIU.

The bridge was scheduled to open early next year and designed to withstand hurricane-force winds. Built across the seven-lane Tamiami Trail, the planned walkway connected the FIU campus to the town of Sweetwater where the university estimates some 4,000 students live.

“We are shocked and saddened about the tragic events unfolding at the FIU-Sweetwater pedestrian bridge," the university said in a statement. “At this time we are still involved in rescue efforts and gathering information."

The university had celebrated the unveiling of the walkway five days prior to the collapse.

"This bridge was about collaboration and was about hope and determination," said FIU president Marc Rosenberg.

The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department said they were working to secure the structure while searching for victims.

"I was three seconds away from being under the bridge, but I looked forward. All of a sudden I saw the bridge collapse, and it started from the left side of the bridge and it really shocked me,” said Susie Bermudez.

"There’s probably like seven or eight cars under the bridge so it was very shocking to me, and I’m very grateful to be alive,” she added.

Jose Mejia, who lives in Sweetwater, told MSNBC that he heard a loud bang and then rushed to the scene with police where he saw numerous cars trapped under the bridge.

            

"There was a young gentleman in a red Honda, and unfortunately there was nothing I could do, but he stuck his hand out and, at that point he passed away, he expired," Mejia said.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he had spoken to Miami-Dade County Police Chief Juan Perez about the collapse and would remain "in constant communication with law enforcement throughout the day."

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has taught at FIU as an adjunct professor, called it a "horrifying tragedy" and said he had spoken to Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and also planned to travel to the university.

Scott and Rubio said there would be a thorough investigation.

"There will be an exhaustive review that will give details at an engineering and scientific level," said Rubio.

And there could be consequences.

"If anyone has done anything wrong we will hold them accountable," said Scott, promising a transparent investigation.

Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that President Donald Trump was aware of the bridge collapse and would provide government resources as needed.

The National Transportation Safety Board said that it would send a 15-person team to investigate the collapse.

The bridge was lifted off its temporary support and placed in its permanent position on Saturday.

The $11.4 million bridge was meant to connect the school to the city of Sweetwater. It is part of a $124 million expansion of the campus.

It was built and designed by Munilla Construction Management in partnership with FIGG Bridge Engineers, the college said.

In a statement posted on Twitter, MCM said they would "conduct a full investigations to determine exactly went wrong."

FIGG Bridge Engineers said they were stunned by the "tragic collapse" and would cooperate with the authorities as they investigated the matter.

"In our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before," the company said in a statement. "Our entire team mourns the loss of life and injuries associated with this devastating tragedy, and our prayers go out to all involved."

The homicide bureau will take the lead in investigating the collapse and the state attorney will also work the case, said Perez, the police chief.

Rubio said that the bridge project was intended to save lives, and that last year an FIU student was killed while crossing the road.

Perez warned there could be more casualties discovered. “This is going to be a long, long process, because to get through that rubble and, you know, the pieces of concrete that are laying there is not going to be an easy task,” he said.

"Our prayers go out to all those impacted," Perez said. He said that despite the best efforts of the fire department, other rescuers and ordinary citizens who leaped in to help, "we're probably going to come out with a sad outcome for many in our communities."