Washington (People's Daily) -- A newly-built pedestrian bridge at Florida International University collapsed Thursday, crushing vehicles on a busy street below and killing at least six people, while more victims could be trapped in the rubble, local officials said.
The pedestrian bridge had been hailed as the result of innovative construction before it collapsed over a busy street west of Miami. It was designed to connect Florida International University with the city to ensure the safety of its students, helping them to avoid fast-moving traffic while crossing the street.
Bridge construction began in spring 2017 and cost roughly $14.2 million with most of the project recently completed. The bridge opened on Saturday and spanned 174 feet and was scheduled for completion early 2019. Once finished, the bridge would have stretched 289 feet stood some 109 feet.
The project was built using Accelerated Bridge Construction methods, which are being advanced at FIU’s Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center.
This “first-of-its kind” construction method aims to reduce potential risks to workers, commuters and pedestrians, and to minimize traffic congestion.
It was the largest pedestrian bridge to use such a method in US history. It was also the first self-cleaning concrete bridge in the world.
“FIU is about building bridges and student safety. This project accomplishes our mission beautifully,” university President Mark B. Rosenberg said in a press release last Saturday.
“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,” Rosenberg’s statement read.
After Thursday’s bridge collapse, Rosenberg issued a somber statement and said, "I am heartbroken at the news of the collapse . . . and the resulting devastation."
FIU spokesperson Maydel Santana-Bravo said the university was "shocked and saddened about the tragic events."
The school is currently on spring break.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) posted a message on its Twitter account that said it was sending investigators to the site.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) promised there would be a full investigation into what caused the bridge to collapse. “The victims and their families deserve to know what went wrong. There will be an extraordinary review into what the errors were and what led to this catastrophic collapse,” said Rubio.