MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – More than three years after the tragic FIU bridge collapse, crews on Monday began demolishing the final parts of the structure that have remained standing.
Six people were killed when the bridge near Florida International University came crashing down on March 15, 2018 at Southwest Eighth Street and Southwest 109th Avenue.
The removal of the remaining structure will allow for a survey of the land so the Florida Department of Transportation, FIU and construction partners can work toward a new bridge project.
There are parts still remaining on the FIU side and across the street. The demolition on the FIU side will begin first, and the process is expected to last about six weeks as long as the weather cooperates.
“To complete the necessary surveys required for the design, FIU contractors will partially remove existing structural elements at two locations — one on the FIU Campus side, south of SW 8 Street and one on the City of Sweetwater side, north of the C-4 Canal,” an FDOT spokeswoman said.
“During the structural removal work on the FIU Campus side, it will be necessary to close one outside eastbound travel lane on SW 8 Street approaching SW 109 Avenue. Lane closures will occur from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday for approximately three weeks. During these closures, three eastbound lanes, and access to and from FIU via East Campus Circle will remain open.”
FIU students who have been walking across the main roadway say a new bridge would be good for their safety but it would also bring back memories of the tragic collapse.
“I feel like it’s going to be a lot more safer for kids to walk across. I think it will be a good thing,” student Janki Shah said Monday. “It’s going to be difficult for people to see a new bridge there. It’s going to definitely bring back memories of the old bridge. ...
“Hopefully they build it properly this time.”
FDOT says that the replacement bridge “will provide a safe pedestrian crossing from Florida International University’s main campus to residential towers and student housing located north of SW 8 Street in the City of Sweetwater. Design began in April 2021 and will last approximately two years. Construction is expected to begin summer 2023 and last approximately two years.”
In February, the National Transportation Safety Board laid blame on design errors and omissions by the bridge engineer and a botched peer review by the company responsible for vetting the ultimately unsafe design.
Daniel Munilla, president of one of the companies that worked on the project, said in February that he wrestles with what could have been done differently.
“We have had many restless nights,” Munilla said. “We wish we would have done more.”
His family-run company, formerly named Munilla Construction Management and now rebranded as Magnum Construction Management, says its workers were alarmed by cracks in the area where the bridge ultimately failed but were told repeatedly by the engineer, including on the day of the collapse, that there was no safety concern.