Florida International University installs first-of-its-kind pedestrian bridge

Huge portion of $14.2 million project swung into place Saturday

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor

SWEETWATER, Fla. - A 950-ton section of a pedestrian bridge was swung into place over Southwest Eighth Street Saturday morning, connecting Florida International University with the city of Sweetwater.

The $14.2 million bridge at Southwest Eighth Street and Southwest 109th Avenue is being built using Accelerated Bridge Construction methods, which have been advanced at FIU. The university said the modular construction method reduces potential risks to workers, commuters and pedestrians and minimizes traffic interruptions. 

The bridge is also made of self-cleaning concrete. When exposed to sunlight, titanium dioxide in the concrete traps pollutants and turns them a bright white, the university said.

Officials said the bridge should be completed early next year. FIU President Mark Rosenberg said in addition to connecting the campus with Sweetwater, the 289-feet-long  bridge will become a destination for students and faculty.

"This bridge is not just someplace to someplace else," Rosenberg said. "It will have places where people can study, where they can contemplate, where they can observe the incredible traffic and dynamism of West Dade."

Currently, the university runs shuttles that ferry students across busy Eighth Avenue safely. A student died crossing Eighth Avenue in August after the shuttle service ended for the day.

Saturday installation marks the first time a bridge this large has been installed in this way.

"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," said Atorod Azizinamini, chairman of FIU's Civil & Environmental Engineering Department.

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