Several killed after pedestrian bridge crashes in Miami

Several people have been killed or injured after a pedestrian bridge under construction collapsed near Florida International University in
West Miami-Dade county on Thursday around 1.45 pm.

The 174-foot-long, 950-tonne bridge fell across six lanes of the busy Tamiami Trail while the traffic light for motorists was red.

A Florida Highway Patrol police officer told a newspaper that there may be several deaths as the bridge fell on at least six to eight vehicles.

At least six people have been confirmed dead. Many more are trapped dead or alive in the rubble and it will take time for rescuers to pull them out.

Witnesses said one survivor, Katrina Collazo, was pulled out of a half-crushed car. Ten patients were admitted to the trauma centre at Kendall
Regional Medical Center. A patient with head and chest injuries and another, who is in a coma, are in a critical condition.

The cause of the crash was not clear. The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the collapse of the FIU-Sweetwater bridge.

It was an ‘instant’ bridge installed in a single day at Southwest 109th Avenue on Saturday (March 10) using an innovative method.

Before installation, the 174-foot section of the 320-foot long bridge was fabricated by the side of the Trail as support columns were erected in place.

On Saturday, the 174-foot section was lifted off and fixed in place over the support columns saving time and ensuring safety of bridge workers, pedestrians and motorists.

FIU said on its website that the method used in the bridge installation reduces risk to workers, walkers, and drivers and minimises traffic disruptions  for construction.

Workers were on the bridge doing some stress test at the time of the collapse, according to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. The bridge was expected to open to foot traffic only next year.

The facility was intended to provide students a safe crossing over the seven-lane Tamiami Trail and directly connect their main campus to Sweetwater where some 4,000 of them live in private apartments or FIU’s dormitories.

The clamour for the bridge followed the death of an undergraduate Alexis Dale who was run over while crossing the intersection in August last year. An FIU spokeswoman said most students have gone home for vacation.