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FIU-Sweetwater University City Bridge (collapsed)


A rendering of what the bridge will look like upon completion

Florida International University News Bureau

View this photo at news.fiu.edu

BH Photo #419445


Dashcam of collapse

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Concrete truss with faux cable stays pedestrian bridge over busy Tamiami Trail (US 41) was to have connected the Florida International University main campus to the Sweetwater community to the north.

The bridge was under construction, with the south span over US 41 having been prefabricated offsite via "Accelerated Bridge Construction" techniques, and was then moved into place as a whole unit on Saturday March 10, 2018. The north span over Tamiami Canal had not yet been built.

On March 13, an engineer noticed cracks, and at 9:30 AM EDT on March 15 "cracking whip" noises were heard from it. At 1:30 PM, while post-tensioning rods were being tightened, it suddenly collapsed onto cars below on US 41 that were stopped at a red light. Several videos exist of the actual collapse. There were 6 fatalities, including 1 construction worker, and 9 injuries. Multiple investigations are ongoing, including the NTSB, and lawsuits have been filed.

For more information, see national news media, and the wikipedia link below.


Lost concrete truss bridge over US 41 and Tamiami Canal on pedestrian walkway
University Park, Miami-Dade County, Florida
Collapsed while under construction
Collapsed suddenly during construction March 15, 2018
- FIGG Engineering Group of Tallahassee, Florida
- Florida International University
- Munilla Construction Management (MCM)
Concrete truss with post-tensioned members and faux cable stays. Single truss web at center of bridge deck. Each panel shaped differently to match cable stays. Roof/upper chord also would protect pedestrians on the bridge from the elements, hence listed as "Covered".
Length of largest span: 174.0 ft.
Total length: 320.0 ft.
Deck width: 30.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+25.76132, -80.37279   (decimal degrees)
25°45'41" N, 80°22'22" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/562896/2849401 (zone/easting/northing)
Inventory number
BH 80754 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • April 25, 2018: Updated by Roger Deschner: Changed bridge type from cable stayed to concrete truss with faux cable stays
  • March 19, 2018: New video from Clark Vance
  • March 17, 2018: Added by Roger Deschner

Related Bridges 



FIU-Sweetwater University City Bridge (collapsed)
Posted March 8, 2021, by Jason Smith (flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com)

In connection with Roger's post about FIGG and the FIU Bridge, here's the article mentioned:


It also addresses the more underlying problem of people being shied away by math and sciences, which has resulted in new engineers and designers lacking even the basic math skills to build a bridge. And according to the author, this is fatal for not only will we have bridges in need of maintenance and rehab, but also newly built bridges that have enough flaws to cause their collapses, just like the one at FIU.


FIU-Sweetwater University City Bridge (collapsed)
Posted March 8, 2021, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

Two new developments. The FIU Board of Trustees approved a plan to build a new bridge. It is ceding all control over design and construction to the Florida Department of Transportation. Hopefully this will result in a less innovative, and much safer, design. It needs to be either a steel through truss, or some kind of through arch, due to the requirements of the site. From the FIU student newspaper: http://panthernow.com/2021/02/23/breaking-news-bot-approved-...

As reported in Bridgehunter's Chronicles, FIGG Engineering, which designed this ill-fated bridge, has been debarred from federally funded projects for 10 years. After FIGG was recently fired from two major projects in Texas, it may go out of business. This article contains interesting photos and diagrams from the NTSB's report on the collapse. From the American Society of Civil Engineers: https://source.asce.org/fhwa-proposes-10-year-debarment-for-...

This controversy has me worried about the brand-new Cline Avenue Bridge in Indiana, also designed by FIGG. This has echoes of the Silver Bridge Disaster, after which a second bridge, the Hi Carpenter Bridge designed and built by the same engineers, was closed and demolished.

FIU-Sweetwater University City Bridge (collapsed)
Posted April 11, 2020, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

The university is finally acknowledging that it plans to build a new bridge here. One is definitely needed, because the signal-controlled pedestrian crossing of busy US-41 here is itself dangerous. Let's just hope that extreme care will be taken to safely build a safe bridge. Please, no concrete truss, or anything else experimental. This disaster will forever be a stain on the reputation of the FIU Engineering Department, as well as all others who were building it. Lawsuits are still underway.

This is an excerpt from a message sent by FIU president Mark B. Rosenberg to the university community on October 22, 2019:

"Looking to the future, the need for a safe link between our campus and the City of Sweetwater is increasing every day. The number of students living on the other side of 8th Street is expected to double, and a pedestrian bridge is needed for the more than 3,000 students who must cross 8th Street safely several times a day.

"To address this, FIU does intend to build a new bridge where the victims will be memorialized as part of the University City Prosperity Project. We will keep the community updated on these plans."

FIU-Sweetwater University City Bridge (collapsed)
Posted April 25, 2018, by Amanda

Regarding the Drew Bridge:

Unfortunetly the Drew Bridge collapsed under heavy floodwaters about 2 weeks ago.

The swing pier was destroyed, although I gather that the truss superstructure, despite severely damaged, was not a complete loss and has been relocated, fenced off next to the Hal W. Adams Bridge.

FIU-Sweetwater University City Bridge (collapsed)
Posted April 25, 2018, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

So, now that this incident is down to lawsuits and NTSB investigations, what next? There is clearly a need for a bridge at this location. FIU students are being killed crossing busy US 41.

I assume they will not simply try again to build this failed design. That would be a travesty, and a dishonor to the 6 who lost their lives here.

I do like Nathan Holth's idea of moving and rehabilitating the remains of the historic Drew Bridge. It might actually fit into this space with its big center pier, which could be located between the road and the canal. Or there may be another historic bridge available for reuse, such as Indiana's 9-span Bridge. Such an historic bridge could be an interesting classroom for FIU engineering students.

Or simply build a more conventional steel through truss bridge. The requirements of the site dictate a through truss, those being clearance requirements above the road, along with a desire to minimize how many stairs pedestrians would have to climb. This part of the original design was correct - it was to have been a through truss to meet these basic requirements. However, successful concrete truss bridges are rare, perhaps for a reason.

If no available historic bridge can be found, build a new steel through truss, but build it deliberately to be a classroom, with ready connectors and power outlets for stress monitors and other instrumentation, so the engineering students could learn how to use these tools on a real bridge. Make the deck to be inside the truss webs, so that the bottom chord is easily visible. (Example: rehabbed Chatham Street Bridge in Blue Island IL.) If they would like to make it a bit fancier than a simple Warren truss, it could be a Baltimore, Pennsylvania, or Lattice truss with their interesting geometry. Those are designs intended to carry heavy trains, which could minimize sway from people walking across. A conventional steel truss bridge would be easy and safe to build using "accelerated bridge construction" techniques. Such a replacement bridge could be both a memorial to the 6 fatalities, and a classroom for the future bridge builders at FIU.

A bridge is clearly needed here. The lawsuits and NTSB investigations are "water under the bridge". It's time to start thinking about the new bridge.

FIU-Sweetwater University City Bridge (collapsed)
Posted March 31, 2018, by James Baughn (webmaster [at] bridgehunter [dot] com)

Latest updates about the bridge collapse (in short, we still don't know much):


FIU-Sweetwater University City Bridge (collapsed)
Posted March 19, 2018, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

As near as I can tell the cables were supplemental intended to reduce oscillations from pedestrian usage. I was hoping to find a definitive answer of "what type of bridge was this" but its not clear. It might be loosely called an "extradosed concrete truss bridge" but I am not sure if that is appropriate, although extradosed bridges rely less on the cables for support than a full-blown cable-stayed bridge. The spans were definitely concrete trusses, and were definitely supposed to be self-supporting after moved into position over the roadway before the tower cables were installed. I selected some sheets from the Design/Build proposal that has renderings and prelim drawings (including showing the erection sequence) and attached them here. Currently a lot of the project documentation can be found here: http://facilities.fiu.edu/projects/BT-904.htm

Attachment #1 (application/pdf; 12,614,818 bytes)

FIU-Sweetwater University City Bridge (collapsed)
Posted March 17, 2018, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

I am at a bit of a loss to categorize this bridge type from the artist's rendering of the completed bridge. (Regardless of its collapse.) I think it may be primarily a truss bridge, with the cable stays there only for reinforcement in case of a Category 5 hurricane, which it had been designed to withstand. If so, what kind of truss is it? I guessed "Warren with all verticals" but I could be wrong on that. It's kind of half of a Pratt. Each panel is different.