The Miami bridge that collapsed, killing 6, was installed in a few hours and considered a ‘marvel’ of modern construction

Members of the National Transportation Safety Board seen Friday investigating the scene where a pedestrian bridge collapsed a few days after it was built in Miami. Getty Images/Joe Raedle
  • The pedestrian bridge that collapsed in Miami on Thursday was installed using the Accelerated Bridge Construction method.
  • The bridge was installed in just “a few hours” on Saturday, and officials immediately hailed it as a “construction marvel.”
  • Local and federal officials are now investigating the cause of the collapse, but it could take days to find out what happened.

The pedestrian bridge that collapsed Thursday in Miami, killing at least six people, was installed just days earlier using an innovative technique to speed up construction and minimise traffic disruption.

The $US14.2 million bridge, which spanned 174 feet and weighed 950 tons, took just “a few hours” to install Saturday, according to a press release from Florida International University, where the bridge connected with the city of Sweetwater.

The university lauded the project as a major improvement to students’ safety, a “construction marvel,” and an “outstanding example” of a method called Accelerated Bridge Construction.

“This method of construction reduces potential risks to workers, commuters, and pedestrians and minimizes traffic interruptions,” the release said. “This is what creative solutions to transportation challenges look like.”

Saturday’s installation also set a record for the largest bridge to be moved using self-propelled modular transportation in US history.

But FIU officials’ triumph was short-lived. Soon after the deadly collapse, the university deleted a tweet about the bridge that quoted its president, Mark Rosenberg.

“FIU is about building bridges and student safety. This project accomplishes our mission beautifully,” Rosenberg had said.

It’s unclear what caused the collapse

Fiu bridge collapse miami
Vehicles were trapped under the collapsed pedestrian bridge on Thursday. Getty Images/Joe Raedle

Experts say the FIU bridge is far from the only one to use the ABC method – it has been gaining popularity across the US for the past decade.

“It’s more expensive to do, but it gains the advantage of keeping traffic moving and that’s what makes the phone ring at the mayor’s office,” Ralph Verrastro, the president of the Naples-based Bridging Solutions, told the Miami Herald.

The method is a “very good way to construct our bridges,” Andy Hermann, a former president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, told ABC News. He added that it was unclear whether the use of the ABC method caused Thursday’s disaster.

“It could be materials, it could be construction technique, it could be the engineering design itself,” Hermann said.

Construction workers were conducting a stress test on the bridge Thursday, the Herald reported.

Federal and Miami-Dade officials stressed to reporters during a Friday-morning press conference that their investigation was only just beginning, and it will most likely take days to determine the cause of the collapse.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a 15-member “go team” to the scene Thursday and is investigating both how the bridge collapsed and how the incident could have been prevented.

“Our entire purpose for being here is to find out what happened so that we can keep it from happening again,” NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said.