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  • Pedestrian bridge linking Florida International University campus with Sweetwater collapsed on Thursday
  • US Senator Bill Nelson told a Miami TV station that between six and 10 people were killed 
  • Ten people were rushed to hospital, two in critical condition suffering from a cardiac arrest and a brain injury
  • Rescuers, with dogs, worked to find survivors and free the eight vehicles trapped in the bridge wreckage
  • The 950-ton bridge was installed last Saturday and had not yet been open to pedestrian traffic 
  • FIU touted the bridge’s construction as a huge success since it was installed in just six hours on Saturday
  • The bridge wasn’t due to be open to foot traffic until early 2019, according to the university
  • FIU students had long demanded a bridge because it was too dangerous to cross the 7-lane Tamiami Trail 
  • An estimated 4,000 FIU students live in Sweetwater, a city near Miami which is part of Dade County 
  • Construction of the bridge cost $14million, which was paid for by the federal government
  • FIGG and Munilla Construction, the two companies that collaborated on the bridge, expressed sorrow
  • Both companies have been accused in years past of shoddy construction practices 

Up to 10 people have been killed when a newly installed pedestrian bridge spanning several lanes of traffic collapsed at Florida International University on Thursday.

Cars were waiting for the lights to change when the 950-ton ‘instant bridge’, which was installed in just six hours on Saturday, crumbled and fell on the waiting traffic on the busy, seven lane 8th Street, which runs from downtown Miami all the way to the Everglades.

US Senator Bill Nelson of Florida told local TV station CBS Miami that between six to 10 people died. Another ten have been rushed to Kendall Regional Medical Center, at least two in ‘extremely critical’ condition. One of those who arrived in critical condition was suffering a cardiac arrest, but was revived by doctors, while the other has a serious brain injury.

The remaining eight were stable, with injuries such as ‘bruises and abrasions to broken bones.’ 

The 174-foot ‘instant bridge’ hailed as a feat of engineering and safety, was installed Saturday morning but was not due to open to the public until 2019. 

‘We’re working our way into the pile trying to create holes that we can actually physically see,’ Miami-Dade Fire Department Division Chief Paul Estopian told reporters. 

The Florida Highway Patrol has said several people were killed but did not release a figure on fatalities. Rescue teams are working to free eight vehicles were trapped in the bridge wreckage, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in an interview with CBS Miami

One person was suffering from cardiac arrest, Gimenez said. 

Television images captured from helicopter show numerous cars crushed by the weight of the bridge.  

The brand new pedestrian bridge collapsed without warning on Thursday afternoon, crushing the cars below it

Aerial photos show the devastation caused when the structure collapsed, as multiple emergency vehicles rushed to the scene

Aerial photos show the devastation caused when the structure collapsed, as multiple emergency vehicles rushed to the scene

This is the moment the 950-ton bridge, installed in just six hours on Saturday, collapsed on cars waiting for the lights to change

This is the moment the 950-ton bridge, installed in just six hours on Saturday, collapsed on cars waiting for the lights to change

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department personnel and other rescue units work at the scene where a pedestrian bridge collapsed. One driver may have had a lucky escape after the front of his car escaped relatively unscathed while the back was crushed 

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department personnel and other rescue units work at the scene where a pedestrian bridge collapsed. One driver may have had a lucky escape after the front of his car escaped relatively unscathed while the back was crushed 

Florida Highway Patrol initially said at least five cars were trapped underneath the debris as the bridge fell onto Tamiami Trail, but it was later learned there were eight vehicles underneath the rubble

Florida Highway Patrol initially said at least five cars were trapped underneath the debris as the bridge fell onto Tamiami Trail, but it was later learned there were eight vehicles underneath the rubble

A view of the collapsed pedestrian bridge on the Florida International University in Miami, Florida, which left up to ten dead

A view of the collapsed pedestrian bridge on the Florida International University in Miami, Florida, which left up to ten dead

The remains of a truck is seen poking out from the rubble of the pedestrian bridge which collapsed on a busy seven-lane highway

The remains of a truck is seen poking out from the rubble of the pedestrian bridge which collapsed on a busy seven-lane highway

Horrified onlookers stand at the side of the road as emergency responders work at the scene of the bridge collapse

Horrified onlookers stand at the side of the road as emergency responders work at the scene of the bridge collapse

Arescue dog and its handler works at the scene where a pedestrian bridge collapsed to search for survivors 

Arescue dog and its handler works at the scene where a pedestrian bridge collapsed to search for survivors 

Suzy Bermudez told ABC News she’s been in the line of traffic when she saw the cars in front of her ‘totally smashed, almost to the ground’ by the falling debris.

‘It fell on the cars that were waiting for the light to change,’ she said.  ‘All of a sudden, I saw it collapse. It was in slow motion.

‘I couldn’t process it until I actually jumped out of my car,’ Bermudez continued, adding she saw just one survivor, who escaped after the bridge smashed just the back of his car.

At one point, police had requested television helicopters to leave the area so rescuers could hear for any sounds of people crying for help from beneath the collapsed structure, the Miami TV station said. 

President Trump has since tweeted that he is monitoring the situation in Florida, and praised the brave responders who have been saving lives.

‏’Continuing to monitor the heartbreaking bridge collapse at FIU – so tragic. Many brave First Responders rushed in to save lives. Thank you for your courage. Praying this evening for all who are affected,’ he wrote.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said today, in a media briefing, that: ‘Our brave first responders are working feverishly to save lives. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and offer whatever support is needed to the local officials and community.’  

Authorities placed a yellow sheet covering the license plate of this vehicle, which was crushed by the collapsed bridge

Authorities placed a yellow sheet covering the license plate of this vehicle, which was crushed by the collapsed bridge

At least six injured people were taken away from the scene and eight vehicles were trapped in the bridge wreckage

At least six injured people were taken away from the scene and eight vehicles were trapped in the bridge wreckage

FIU released a statement on Thursday, saying: 'We are shocked and saddened about the tragic events unfolding at the FIU-Sweetwater pedestrian bridge'

FIU released a statement on Thursday, saying: ‘We are shocked and saddened about the tragic events unfolding at the FIU-Sweetwater pedestrian bridge’

Images show a number of emergency rescue workers crawling along the rubble in an attempt to spot survivors

Images show a number of emergency rescue workers crawling along the rubble in an attempt to spot survivors

Police and news helicopters circle the scene above a new pedestrian bridge that collapsed onto a highway at Florida International University-Sweetwater. At one point, they were asked to leave the scene so rescuers could hear the cries of those stuck under the rubble

Police and news helicopters circle the scene above a new pedestrian bridge that collapsed onto a highway at Florida International University-Sweetwater. At one point, they were asked to leave the scene so rescuers could hear the cries of those stuck under the rubble

The bridge was built in order to link up Florida International University's campus with a neighborhood that houses students

The bridge was built in order to link up Florida International University’s campus with a neighborhood that houses students

Florida Gov. Rick Scott tweeted that he was traveling to Florida International University ‘to be briefed by local law enforcement and university officials.’ 

‘I have spoken with Miami-Dade County Police Chief Juan Perez about the pedestrian bridge collapse at FIU. I will be in constant communication with law enforcement throughout the day,’ he added.  

The bridge was designed by FIGG and built by Munilla Construction – two companies who have been accused in years past of shoddy building practices. 

Students at FIU had demanded for months that the bridge be built because of the danger in crossing the busy, seven-lane Tamiami Trail highway. 

Images also show a number of emergency rescue workers crawling along the rubble in an attempt to spot survivors. 

It was built to provide pedestrian access from FIU’s main campus to an area that houses a number of student residences. 

Two workers were replacing something on the side of the bridge when it collapsed, according to CBS Miami

The 950-ton span, which was built over Tamiami Trail at a cost of $14million, was not yet open to pedestrians. It was scheduled to open sometime early next year.

Rescue workers frantically search for survivors as they stand atop the rubble of the pedestrian bridge

Rescue workers frantically search for survivors as they stand atop the rubble of the pedestrian bridge

Firefighters are seen near the collapsed pedestrian bridge which collapsed onto a busy highway near Miami

Firefighters are seen near the collapsed pedestrian bridge which collapsed onto a busy highway near Miami

The bridge was installed rapidly this past Saturday. FIU touted the speed at which the bridge was constructed

The bridge was installed rapidly this past Saturday. FIU touted the speed at which the bridge was constructed

Rescue workers approach the crushed car after the bridge's collapse near Miami on Thursday

Rescue workers approach the crushed car after the bridge’s collapse near Miami on Thursday

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department workers work at the scene of the collapsed bridge. A vehicle which appears to be a white van is seen on the left after it was crushed by the bridge

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department workers work at the scene of the collapsed bridge. A vehicle which appears to be a white van is seen on the left after it was crushed by the bridge

First responders cross the Tamiami Trail as rescue workers look for survivors of the collapsed bridge near Miami

First responders cross the Tamiami Trail as rescue workers look for survivors of the collapsed bridge near Miami

Tamiami Trail is considered a busy roadway, and the bridge was built in order to accommodate students who were fearful of crossing the highway.

Last summer, an FIU student was killed after he was hit by a car while crossing the highway, according to the Miami Herald

The tragedy amplified student demands for the bridge’s prompt completion. 

Miami-Dade County Emergency Management confirmed the collapse and urged the public to avoid the area near SW 8th Street and 109th Avenue. 

‘We thought something fell,’ Damany Reed, who witnessed the collapse, told CBS Miami

‘But then we saw the bridge collapse and it was just surreal at that moment. It was very scary.’

‘Me and my boyfriend had just driven under the bridge,’ witness Isabella Carrasco told CBSN.

‘We actually commented on how new it was … We had heard a loud bang. At first, we thought we had hit something, and when we looked around, we realized the bridge had collapsed. When we looked around we saw that it was much, much worse.’ 

A Colorado-based engineering firm, BDI, deleted a tweet on Monday that said it was 'thrilled to have provided structural monitoring during a spectacular bridge move'

A Colorado-based engineering firm, BDI, deleted a tweet on Monday that said it was ‘thrilled to have provided structural monitoring during a spectacular bridge move’

Lionel Collins, another witness, said he was ‘pretty shaken’ after he rescued a number of people from their cars.

‘After the whole thing broke, I was freaking out,’ Collins told CNN

‘I got out of my car and me and a few other people were sprinting over there. We started helping people whose cars were at least half crushed and whoever was easily saved. 

‘But we couldn’t really go under any of the rubble because at the time, the bridge – the other half of the bridge is still kind of leaning upward right now.’ 

‘One girl, her car was literally squished by the bridge from the back,’ one witness said. 

‘So she was able to get out. We were trying to help her. It was very traumatizing.’ 

FIU released a statement on Thursday, saying: ‘We are shocked and saddened about the tragic events unfolding at the FIU-Sweetwater pedestrian bridge.

‘At this time we are still involved in rescue efforts and gathering information.’

The bridge and its support towers took months to construct, according to the Miami Herald

The main body of the span was assembled along the side of the Tamiami Trail, with support towers built at each end.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, the bridge was then lifted by special gantry cranes and lowered into place.

The portion of the roadway underneath the bridge was closed for the weekend. It reopened early Monday morning. 

A Colorado-based engineering firm, BDI, deleted a tweet on Monday that said it was ‘thrilled to have provided structural monitoring during a spectacular bridge move.’

The bridge, which was built at a cost of $14million and was funded by the federal government, was touted by the school as an achievement when it was completed last Saturday. 

Planners had envisioned the bridge as a new complex which would provide new sidewalks, a plaza, benches, tables, shade, and Wi-Fi.

The bridge was touted as part of overall efforts to revitalize Sweetwater, a city in Dade County. 

A crane is seen near a newly installed pedestrian bridge, that collapsed, over a six-lane highway in Miami on Thursday

A crane is seen near a newly installed pedestrian bridge, that collapsed, over a six-lane highway in Miami on Thursday

Police set up a roadblock on Tamiami Trail just a few hundred feet away from the collapsed bridge in Sweetwater

Police set up a roadblock on Tamiami Trail just a few hundred feet away from the collapsed bridge in Sweetwater

FIGG Bridge Engineers, the company that designed the project, said the bridge was not expected to be open to foot traffic until sometime next year. It is seen above before its collapse

FIGG Bridge Engineers, the company that designed the project, said the bridge was not expected to be open to foot traffic until sometime next year. It is seen above before its collapse

'We are stunned by today’s tragic collapse of a pedestrian bridge that was under construction over Southwest Eighth Street in Miami,' FIGG Bridge Engineers said in a statement

‘We are stunned by today’s tragic collapse of a pedestrian bridge that was under construction over Southwest Eighth Street in Miami,’ FIGG Bridge Engineers said in a statement

'We will fully cooperate with every appropriate authority in reviewing what happened and why,' the engineering firm said

‘We will fully cooperate with every appropriate authority in reviewing what happened and why,’ the engineering firm said

The bridge's planning was done at FIU's very own Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center

The bridge’s planning was done at FIU’s very own Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center

A computer-generated rendering video depicts the final vision for the bridge, which was to include a resting area as well as Wi-Fi

A computer-generated rendering video depicts the final vision for the bridge, which was to include a resting area as well as Wi-Fi

The image above shows a victim being wheeled away from the scene of the collapsed bridge

The image above shows a victim being wheeled away from the scene of the collapsed bridge

Emergency crews load a victim into a waiting ambulance at the scene

Emergency crews load a victim into a waiting ambulance at the scene

 The bridge was built in order to increase student safety since the busy highway was considered dangerous to cross

 The bridge was built in order to increase student safety since the busy highway was considered dangerous to cross

How the collapsed Florida bridge was erected in six hours

The new pedestrian walkway that collapsed onto traffic at Florida International University on Thursday, killing several people, was erected in only six hours using a technique called ‘Accelerated Bridge Construction,’ according to the school.

Here are a few facts about the project and Accelerated Bridge Construction:

* The bridge was designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, the most dangerous measure by the National Hurricane Center, and last 100 years, according to the university. (http://bit.ly/2tQ2ARg)

* To keep the disruption of traffic to a minimum, a 174-foot (53-meter) portion of the bridge was built adjacent to the street and was driven into its perpendicular position across the road by a rig in only six hours on Saturday, according to the university.

* Accelerated Bridge Construction, or ABC, is a technique in which bridges can be replaced in 48 to 72 hours, reducing planning and work time by years and cutting traffic delays.

* Accelerated Bridge Construction uses different methods, designs and materials that are intended to produce safer, more durable bridges with longer service lives than conventional bridges, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration.

* The three leading ABC technologies being promoted under the Federal Highway Administration’s ‘Every Day Counts’ initiative include Prefabricated Bridge Elements and Systems, Slide-In Bridge Construction, and Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil – Integrated Bridge System (GRS-IBS).

* Funding for the $14.2 million bridge is part of a $19.4 million U.S. Transportation Department grant through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, according to the university.

* The bridge was the first in the world to be constructed entirely of self-cleaning concrete, according to the university. Titanium dioxide used in its construction, when exposed to sunlight, captures air pollutants and keeps the surface white. 

Private developers were also planning to build apartment towers to cater to FIU students, according to the Herald. 

‘FIU is about building bridges and student safety,’ FIU president Mark Rosenberg said on Saturday. 

‘This project accomplishes our mission beautifully. We are filled with pride and satisfaction at seeing this engineering feat come to life and connect our campus to the surrounding community where thousands of our students live.’ 

The school and the company which built the bridge boasted of the speed of its construction, which was aimed at reducing the traffic burden on the busy thoroughfare, according to the Miami New Times

The bridge’s planning was done at FIU’s very own Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center. 

‘This [accelerated bridge construction] technique reduced potential risks to workers, commuters and pedestrians and prevented traffic tie-ups in the area,’ FIU wrote in a press release from five days ago.

‘ABC is a delivery solution method of building and repairing bridges with the capability to reduce the interruption to traffic and increase safety,’ the center writes on its web site.

FIGG's partner in the project, Munilla Construction, also released a statement on Thursday

FIGG’s partner in the project, Munilla Construction, also released a statement on Thursday

FIGG Bridge Engineers, the Tallahassee-based company that designed the project, said the bridge was not expected to be open to foot traffic until sometime next year. 

‘We are stunned by today’s tragic collapse of a pedestrian bridge that was under construction over Southwest Eighth Street in Miami,’ FIGG Bridge Engineers said in a statement.

‘Our deepest sympathies are with all those affected by this accident. 

‘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.’  

FIGG’s partner in the project, Munilla Construction, also released a statement on Thursday.

‘Our family’s thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy,’ Munilla said in a statement.

‘The new UniversityCity Bridge, which was under construction, experienced a catastrophic collapse causing injuries and loss of life.

‘MCM is a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist.

‘We will conduct a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and will cooperate with investigators on scene in every way.’ 

The U.S. Department of Transportation also released a statement saying that: ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and first responders who are assisting in the on-going rescue and recovery efforts following today’s tragic collapse of a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University.’ 

Munilla won the bid to build the bridge, beating out three other companies, according to the Miami New Times

Both FIGG and Munilla have been accused in years past of unsafe practices.

On March 5, Munilla was sued by a TSA employee at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport who claims that a pedestrian bridge built by the firm collapsed under his weight, sending him falling to the ground.

In June 2012, a bridge built by FIGG in Virginia fell apart during construction, injuring four workers, according to The Virginian-Pilot

FIU has deleted statements on social media and press releases from earlier this week touting the construction of the bridge.

‘This bridge is the result of great support from our congressional delegation and the US Department of Transportation,’ FIU Senior Vice President and CFO Kenneth Jessell announced over the weekend. 

‘This bridge has already been the catalyst for significant economic development in the City of Sweetwater. FIU and our surrounding community will benefit from this project for generations to come.’ 

A family reunification center has now been set up at FIU’s SASC Building, at 11200 SW Eighth St., Miami-Dade County Emergency Management said on Twitter. 

FIU’s ‘instant bridge’ had been hailed as a feat of engineering

The FIU-Sweetwater University City Bridge is the largest pedestrian bridge moved via Self-Propelled Modular Transportation in U.S. history – meaning that the bridge was constructed elsewhere and then transported to its permanent location

The bridge’s main 174-foot span was assembled by the side of the Tamiami Trail while support towers were built at either end 

The 950-ton bridge was then moved and lowered into place by special gantry cranes at the intersection of Southwest 109th Avenue and 8th Street on Saturday – just five days before its collapse – in an operation that lasted several hours

It had been hailed as a feat of engineering and the way forward for student safety. FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg had previously said: ‘FIU is about building bridges and student safety. This project accomplishes our mission beautifully. We are filled with pride and satisfaction at seeing this engineering feat come to life and connect our campus to the surrounding community where thousands of our students live’

It is constructed entirely of self-cleaning concrete which means that when it is exposed to sunlight, the titanium dioxide in the concrete captures pollutants and turns it bright white, reducing maintenance costs

Construction of the bridge began in the spring of 2017 and was expected to be completed in early 2019 – it had not yet opened to pedestrians  

When completed the bridge was set to be 289 feet long, 109 feet tall and 32-foot-wide

It was to link FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus to the small suburban city of Sweetwater, where approximately 4,000 people live.

–Credit: Home | Mail Online