MIAMI, FL — It’s been more than five years since the Florida International University pedestrian bridge collapsed.
Now the Florida Department of Transportation has announced new plans to build a new bridge.
Orlando and Gina Duran lost their daughter Alexa in the FIU bridge collapse on March 15, 2018.
Orlando was in London at the time and Gina was up to date on the construction of the bridge.
She said she knew people working on the bridge had found cracks in the structure. Her daughter, a freshman studying political science, waited at the traffic light the day her repairs were made.
“I spoke to her at 1:47 and she said, ‘Mom, I’m running late. I’ll see you in a little while,'” Gina said. “And she said, ‘Okay, I love you,’ and she hung up at 1:47. And at 1:47 the bridge fell.”
The collapse killed six people, including Alexa.
Federal Transit Authority investigators had said a design flaw was likely the cause of the failure, and contractors should not have made the repairs while traffic continued on busy 8th Avenue. .
“The issue has always been safety. Whatever you do, even if this bridge collapses, it doesn’t matter if the road is closed,” Orlando shared. “You can always build another bridge.” You can’t get your life back.”
But the Florida Department of Transportation promises this time will be different.
For one thing, the original bridge was built with pure cement. According to FDOT, the new design will be made with traditional steel girders.
The bridge will also be “constructed using conventional methods that are done in stages”, as opposed to the “accelerated construction” done previously.
The agency also stressed that “during construction, we will implement road closures and detours as necessary.”
That said, Alexa’s family wants safety to be at the forefront of this process.
“It could be metal, it could be cement, it could be paper, but the main point of this construction is to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Orlando said. No one should walk under or over it. If something is wrong with the bridge, don’t wait until it falls again. It doesn’t matter what material you use. That’s safety. ”
FDOT will manage the design and construction of the project, with FIU and the City of Sweetwater remaining local partners in this new project, which is expected to complete design in July of this year.
Once construction is complete, FIU will own, maintain and operate the pedestrian bridge.
The new pedestrian crossing will be equipped with USB charging stations, Wi-Fi and security cameras.
The entire project costs approximately $18 million. According to FDOT, construction will begin in early 2024 and will last for two years.
The Durands said they have been asked by the FDOT to provide information on the plan and hope to continue doing so.
Orlando said he wanted to make sure what happened to his little daughter never happened again.
“From our point of view, all we want is for the roads to be closed during the work. It is mandatory.”
“It’s a requirement and if they follow it, I think we’ll be fine,” Orlando said.
Florida 24 has contacted both the FIU and the City of Sweetwater about plans for the bridge. The City of Sweetwater referred Florida 24 to her FDOT.
FIU is not responding to multiple requests.
https://www.wtxl.com/news/florida-news/new-fiu-bridge-on-the-horizon-after-deadly-2018-collapse New FIU bridge on horizon after fatal 2018 collapse