FIU bridge contractor, engineer express condolences, co-operation with tragedy investigation

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MCM, in partnership with FIGG Bridge Engineers, designed and built the Florida International University (FIU) bridge that collapsed while under construction, killing at least six people.

The $9.3 million pedestrian bridge, sidewalks and plazas were to connect the City of Sweetwater with Modesto A. Maidique Campus (MMC) before the tragedy occurred on March 16.

This was MCM’s first design-build project with FIGG, described in a news release as an award-winning Tallahassee-based firm. FIGG has designed bridges throughout the U.S., including the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge in Boston and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay.

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“Our deepest sympathies are with all those affected by this accident,” FIGG officials said in a statement reported in the Tallahassee Democrat. “We will fully cooperate with every appropriate authority in reviewing what happened and why. In our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before. Our entire team mourns the loss of life and injuries associated with this devastating tragedy, and our prayers go out to all involved.”

“The pedestrian bridge along with inviting walkways, lighting and landscaping, will offer a safer transportation route for our students and visitors between the Modesto A. Maidique Campus and the City of Sweetwater,” Kenneth Jessell, FIU senior vice-president for finance and administration and chief financial officer, said in an earlier statement. “MCM successfully completed the FIU Football Stadium Expansion in August 2012, and again we look forward to another big success with the UniversityCity Prosperity Project bridge.”

The pedestrian bridge and other streetscape elements were intended to link the city of Sweetwater with the northern entrance of FIU over Southwest 8th St. FIU, the Florida Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration approved the selection of MCM. The City of Sweetwater and Miami-Dade Transit participated in the selection process.

“The MCM-FIGG Team is honored and blessed to have been selected to build this iconic bridge. It’s even more satisfying to serve the students and faculty of FIU again,” MCM president Jorge Munilla said in a 2016 news release.

The bridge and some other works were funded with an $11.4 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant (also known as the TIGER Grant).

A 175-ft. section of the overall 320-foot long bridge was prefabricated adjacent to Southwest 8th St. on MMC and then moved into position in a single night so as to minimize traffic disruption to Southwest 8th St.

The MCM-FIGG bridge design included a central support tower rising 108 feet above the road that will make the structure a landmark and a gateway for western Miami-Dade County.

The bridge included:

  • A lighting system designed by Randy Burkett to illuminate the bridge at night;
  • a 30-ft. wide concrete canopy;
  • enough width to allow for the comfortable passage of bikes and pedestrians as well as a space for special events and student seating; and
  • sensors and cameras will help analyze traffic in the area as part of an Informed Travel Program and Applications (ITPA) system. The ITPA is being developed by FIU research professors as part of the UniversityCity TIGER Grant to ease area traffic flow with the potential for use in other locations.
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