Florida bridge design error


In March 2018 a 53-metre bridge collapsed in Miami at Florida International University killing six persons who were crushed or struck by falling concrete and steel.  Eight others were injured.  The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued an interim report that concludes that errors by the design engineers were responsible for the fatal accident.  Engineers responsible for the design overestimated of the strength capacity of a critical section of the support, and apparently also underestimated the load on that section.  Concrete and reinforcing steel in the bridge were measured and confirmed to have been proper materials. 

The bridge had only been placed into position a few days, and the Miami Herald newspaper reported on cracks in the concrete as it was suspended above the highway.  “When the cracks appeared, people were concerned and troubled,” a bridge design expert told the newspaper in an email.

“But the cracks were dismissed in what seems to have been an ad-hoc process of consensus within an informal committee of non-qualified persons. The NTSB will certainly have something to say about that whole process. The NTSB will also have much to say about the review procedures used during the design phase.”

The investigation continues.


This story is featured in the 23 November 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.

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