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November 16, 2018

Report: Key design flaws in Florida bridge that had deadly collapse

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Designers overestimated the strength of a critical section of a Florida International University pedestrian bridge that collapsed, killing six people, and they underestimated the load on that same section, federal investigators reported Thursday.

Cracks that were observed in the bridge before it collapsed were consistent with those design errors, their report says.

However, the investigation continues, and the National Transportation Safety Board did not blame those errors for the March 15 collapse in the two-page investigative update . The agency is expected to finish its investigation into the cause of the catastrophe next year.

Experts from the Federal Highway Administration reviewed the construction plans and design calculations for the 174-foot-long (53-meter-long) span intended to link Florida International University with the neighbouring city of Sweetwater.

They determined that the design underestimated the structural load on the north end of the bridge while overestimating the strength “of that same critical section.”

The cracking documented in the weeks before the collapse was “consistent with the identified errors,” the report said. Photographs of those cracks previously released by the NTSB showed that they grew significantly larger after the prefabricated bridge was moved from a casting yard and set into place over a busy highway and a canal.

“The investigation continues to examine the design, review, and construction processes as well as the actions taken once the cracking was observed,” the report said.

The report also said concrete and steel samples from the bridge met the minimum requirements specified in the project’s plans.

Keep reading in the National Post


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