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Expert: FIU bridge collapse could have easily been prevented

Posted at 7:06 PM, Mar 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-16 20:38:48-04

The investigation into the bridge collapse at FIU has only just begun. 

Engineering Professor Madasamy Arockiasamy at Florida Atlantic University said he thinks multiple factors played a role in Thursday’s collapse. 

He suspects the concrete wasn’t given enough time to cure.

“In five days time, that’s a very fast time to cure and get the full support,” Arockiasamy said.

He also believes the structure had no additional support while still in the early stages. 

The bridge had only two beams at each end. 

“You should have two or three intermediary supports, temporary supports, so that in case that the slap has a tendency to deflect, it will be prevented from doing so,” Arockiasamy said. “It’s not able to carry it’s own weight. That means the weight is so heavy, the span is so large, and it has developed so much of deflection, sagging. And that’s how you could have this type of failure in the bottom.”

This could have easily been prevented, he claims, by doing more inspections and tests along the way.

“Strength and stability in every stage, not just the final stage,” Arockiasamy said. 

The bridge was not open for pedestrians yet but it was deemed safe enough for people to drive underneath it. 

“We don’t normally do it that way,” Arockiasamy said. 

FIGG Engineering, the company that designed the bridge, said they have more than 230 bridges across the U.S. and they had never seen this type of collapse. However, in 2012, a FIGG bridge partially collapsed in Virginia. 

Some are wondering why FIGG was awarded the FIU contract.

“Normally you always look for people with a track record who have done it successfully in the past,” Arockiasamy said.

The construction company behind the FIU bridge, Munilla, also had several violations in the past. 

FIGG said they’re fully cooperating with investigators.