Companies Behind Bridge Collapse Had History of Fines, Failures and Lawsuits


Emergency personnel respond after a brand-new pedestrian bridge collapsed onto a highway at Florida International University in Miami on Thursday, March 15, 2018. The pedestrian bridge collapsed onto the highway crushing multiple vehicles and killing several people. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP)

Those in Florida who gave the contracts (two different companies) for the construction of the bridge which collapsed to the “lowest” bidder should have the deceased and the injured on their minds every day and all day for the rest of their lives.

Am I being too harsh?  No.  This bridge was to be built for the safety of the kids who attend Florida International University.  No longer would these students have to cross 8 lanes of traffic to return to Sweet Water and their dormitory.  The plan was for thousands of students to have a safe and beautiful way to cross over.

So WHY did the two companies hired to do the job have a history of failures, lawsuits and huge fines??

I can hardly wrap my head around this one.


The two firms responsible for building Florida International University’s “instant bridge,” which suddenly collapsed Thursday and left six people dead, are coming under increased scrutiny as details emerge of past engineering failures and inspection fines — including a recent accusation that one hired “unskilled” and “careless” workers.

The $14.2-million pedestrian bridge was supposed to open next year to help students cross a busy road adjacent to the campus. It was an accelerated, joint construction effort by two Florida companies: MCM Construction, a Miami-based contractor, and Figg Bridge Design, based in Tallahassee, who both have worked on dozens of projects nationwide, ranging from military facilities to schools.

“Innovations take a design firm into an area where they don’t have applicable experience, and then we have another unexpected failure on our hands,” Robert Bea, a professor of engineering and construction management at the University of California, Berkeley, told the Associated Press after reviewing the bridge’s design — and the pile of rubble it was reduced to on Thursday afternoon.

As state and federal investigators worked Friday to determine how and why the five-day-old span failed, one factor may have been the stress test Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said crews were conducting on the span. Two workers were on the 950-ton bridge when it pancaked on top of vehicles waiting at a stoplight.

Renderings of the project before it went up showed a tall, off-center tower with supporting cables attached to the walkway, the Associated Press reported. When the bridge collapsed, the main tower had not yet been installed, and it was unclear what builders were using as temporary supports.

But the collapse is not the first incident involving either company.

The Virginia Department of Labor cited Figg for four violations in 2012 after a 90-ton slab of concrete fell from a bridge it was building near Norfolk, according to the Miami Herald.

Figg was hit with a $28,000 fine and the Department of Labor said the company modified a girder without properly inspecting it or getting written consent from its manufacturer, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue firefighters work on a brand new, 950-ton pedestrian bridge that collapsed in front of Florida International University, Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Miami. Florida officials said Thursday that several people have been found dead in the rubble of a collapsed South Florida pedestrian bridge where the frantic search for any survivors continued past nightfall. (Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

March 15, 2018: Miami-Dade Fire Rescue firefighters respond to the bridge collapse.  (AP/South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

The girder ultimately failed and was responsible for the collapse, which ended up delaying the bridge’s opening for three months and leaving four workers with minor injuries.

Despite this collapse, the company said Thursday that “in our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before.”

MCM Construction, meanwhile, in a lawsuit filed earlier this month, was accused of hiring “incompetent, inexperienced, unskilled or careless employees.”

The company is building an expansion to Fort Lauderdale International Airport and a worker there was injured when a makeshift bridge collapsed under his weight, the lawsuit says.

Miam-Dade Fire Rescue personnel work after a brand new, 950-ton pedestrian bridge collapsed in front of Florida International University, Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Miami. Florida officials said Thursday that several people have been found dead in the rubble of the collapsed South Florida pedestrian bridge where the frantic search for any survivors continued past nightfall. (Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue personnel inspect the scene following Thursday’s bridge collapse.  (AP/South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

The Associated Press, citing Occupational Safety Health Administration records, also said MCM has been slapped with fines totaling more than $50,000 during the past five years for 11 safety violations, which included complaints about cement dust and unsafe trenches at construction sites.

At one point, a subcontractor that walked off a job site won a $143,000 judgment against MCM after citing safety issues with a bridge project on Red Road in the Miami area, the Miami Herald reported.

“MCM is a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist,” the company said in a statement on its website Thursday. “We will conduct a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and will cooperate with investigators on scene in every way.”

The “building projects” tab of the company’s website shows it has worked on jobs at PortMiami and has built schools, police buildings and adult living facilities.

The Miami Herald, which called MCM one of the “most influential contractors in Miami-Dade,” reported that its name also appears on $130 million in construction jobs from the Department of the Defense and a $63 million school at the Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.

The accelerated construction method was supposed to reduce risks to workers and pedestrians and minimize traffic disruption, the university had said.

The school has long been interested in this kind of bridge design; in 2010, it opened an Accelerated Bridge Construction Center to “provide the transportation industry with the tools needed to effectively and economically utilize the principles of ABC to enhance mobility and safety, and produce safe, environmentally friendly, long-lasting bridges.

“FIU is about building bridges and student safety. This project accomplishes our mission beautifully,” school president Mark B. Rosenberg said in a statement Saturday that now appears to have been taken off the university’s website.

“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,” he added.

The FIU community, along with Sweetwater and county officials, even held a “bridge watch party” March 10. That’s when the span was lifted from its temporary supports, rotated 90 degrees across an eight-lane thoroughfare and lowered into its permanent position over the busy road.

Rosenberg said Thursday after the bridge’s collapse that the community is feeling “immense sadness, uncontrollable sadness.”

“We’re committed to assist in all efforts necessary, and our hope is that this sadness can galvanize the entire community to stay the course, a course of goodness, of hope, of opportunity,” Rosenberg said.

The identities of the victims have not yet been released and responders were still looking into the rubble Friday for more people who may be trapped. – source

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Pray for the families who lost loved ones. Pray for the injured. Pray that the Lord would use this tragedy to bring many to Himself.

I have no more words except COME LORD JESUS!