#AceNewsReport – Mar.17: The people of Sweetwater, Florida were supposed to wait until early 2019 for the Florida International University-Sweetwater University City Bridge to open: Instead, they will wait about that long for an official assessment from the National Transportation Safety Board of why it collapsed just five days after its installation, killing at least six people #AceNewsDesk reports
In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, many queries have centered on the unconventional technique used to build the bridge, something called Accelerated Bridge Construction, or ABC. But ABC is more complicated than its acronym suggests — and it’s hardly brand new. ABC refers to dozens of construction methods, but at its core, it’s about drastically reducing on-site construction time: Mostly, that relies on pre-fabricating things like concrete decks, abutments, walls, barriers, and concrete topped steel girders, and hauling them to the work site. There, cranes or specialized vehicles known as Self-Propelled Modular Transporter install them……………A video posted online by Florida International University, which helped fund the bridge connects to its campus, showed an SPMT lifting and then lowering the span into place. In a now-deleted press release, the university called the “largest pedestrian bridge moved via SPMT in U.S. history,” but that doesn’t seem to mean much, engineering-wise. SPMTs have been around since the 1970s, and have moved much heavier loads…………In 2017, workers used a 600-axle SPMT to salvage the 17,000 ton ferry that sank off the coast of South Korea in 2014:
The ABC technique is much more expensive than building things in place, but cities and places like FIU like it for a specific reason: Because most of the work happens far away, traffic goes mostly unperturbed. When years- or months-long construction projects can have serious effects on businesses and homes, governments might make up the money in the long run. Workers installed this collapsed span in just a few hours. These accelerated techniques are also much safer for workers, who do most their work well away from active roads. The report goes on to note that the bridge collapse is still under investigation and the search for a culprit is ongoing. “The answers could run the gamut, from design flaws to fabrication flubs to installation issues,” reports WIRED. As of publication, The Washington Post is reporting that an engineer called the state to report cracking two days before its collapse:
The New York Times reports that Figg Bridge Engineers’s lead engineer on the project, W. Denney Pate, left a voicemail for a Florida Department of Transportation official reporting cracking on the north end of the bridge that was not considered a safety concern at the time.
The voicemail, however, was ignored until Friday, a day after the collapse, because the transportation employee was out of the office.
“We’ve taken a look at it and, uh, obviously some repairs or whatever will have to be done, but from a safety perspective we don’t see that there’s any issue there so we’re not concerned about it from that perspective,” reads a transcription of Pate’s voicemail obtained by the Times.
“Although obviously the cracking is not good and something’s going to have to be, you know, done to repair that,” he added.
Florida’s Department of Transportation on Friday laid the blame for the bridge’s failure on FIU’s team that commissioned the bridge.
“The responsibility to identify and address life-safety issues and properly communicate them is the sole responsibility of the F.I.U. design-build team,” the agency said.
Figg Bridge Engineers said in a statement that it was “heartbroken by the loss of life and injuries, and are carefully examining the steps that our team has taken in the interest of our overarching concern for public safety.”
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) launched an investigation Friday morning into the bridge’s collapse, which occurred Thursday and killed at least six people, according to Florida officials.
The NTSB is deploying a team of 15 specialists with experience in civil engineering, material science and survival factors to investigate the collapse.
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