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Bridge Designer Left State Voice Mail About Cracks Days Before FIU Bridge Collapsed

Recovery operations continue Friday evening, March 16, 2018, at the site of the collapse FIU pedestrian bridge.
Matias Ocner
Miami Herald
Recovery operations continue Friday evening, March 16, 2018, at the site of the collapse FIU pedestrian bridge.

Two days before a pedestrian bridge collapsed at Florida International University, killing at least six people, an engineer with the firm that designed the structure called the state and left a voicemail to report cracking in the concrete span.

It went unheard for three days.

“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,” Pate said.

“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.”

It was uncertain if those cracks, observed at the north end of the 950-ton structure, contributed to the catastrophic collapse on Thursday. The National Transportation Safety Board, when questioned about the cracking on Friday night during a briefing on the campus, said they’d not yet verified the information or determined how or where the bridge had failed.

“A crack in the bridge does not necessarily mean it’s unsafe,” lead NTSB investigator Robert Accetta said.

Pate reported the cracking on Tuesday in a voice mail message left with the Florida Department of Transportation Tuesday. Pate, in the call, acknowledged the structure would need repair but downplayed the significance of the problem.

Read more at our news partner, the Miami Herald

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David Smiley
Daniel Chang