Pedestrian Bridge Collapses at Florida International University


Rachel Sarnak, Senior Editor

A pedestrian bridge, built for students at Florida International University collapsed yesterday afternoon.  The bridge was completed last Saturday. At least six cars were trapped underneath the bridge, four people were found dead, and nine were taken to the hospital.

The former bridge—the FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity Bridge—was supposed to be an “engineering marvel,” according to Global News. The walkway stood 174-feet tall and was a 950-tonne bridge, equivalent to about 2,094,392 pounds. It was built by Munilla Construction Management (MCM), a company based in Miami, Florida. According to Miami New Times, Munilla was accused on March 5th of severely injuring a TSA employee at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport due to “shoddy work.”

According to CNN, about $14.2 million was used to build the bridge and was funded as part of a $19.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. It was designed to withstand the strength of a Category 5 hurricane and was supposed to last for more than 100 years. Additionally, the bridge was constructed under Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) techniques, reducing the amount of on-site construction time. Because of this, a massive investigation has been launched to figure out why the $14.2 million dollar bridge collapsed. Munilla Construction responded to the bridge collapse on Twitter: “MCM is a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist. We will conduct a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and will cooperate with investigators on scene in every way.” The company also released in a statement to Fort Myers News Press that in its 40-year history, “nothing like this has ever happened before” and that “their entire team mourns the loss of life and injuries associated with this devastating tragedy.”

What caused the bridge to collapse has not been determined. According to NBC, the Florida governor promised an effort to “hold anybody accountable if anyone’s done anything wrong.” The National Transportation Safety Board has already sent a team of investigators to the site to look into the cause.