TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Just hours before a pedestrian bridge collapsed and killed six people at a Miami university, engineers confirmed that cracks in the concrete structure “increased in length daily,” according to meeting records released Monday by the Florida Department of Transportation.
The meeting included officials from the state and Florida International University, which was building a pedestrian bridge over a busy roadway when the span fell onto traffic, killing six people in March 2018. Minutes of the meeting were released after previously being blocked as the National Transportation Safety Board investigated the collapse. Cracks found in the span were discussed at length.
“CEI confirmed cracks have increased in length daily,” the notes said, referring to the construction, engineering and inspection team.
The Florida Department of Transportation asked FIGG Bridge Group, the company that designed the span, “Are you going to continue to figure out why it happened?”
“FIGG responded that all we ‘know is that it just happened,'” said the notes taken by the university.
FIGG went on to say that there was no concern about the safety of the span and that nothing should be done about repairing the cracks until after construction of the back span. The construction and inspection team still raised concerns, saying, “it wanted more eyes on this and that the more eyes on this, the better. FIGG concurred.”
Hours later, the 174-foot-long (53-meter) span fell onto traffic flowing on a busy highway beneath the bridge.
While the state released the records, it said it wouldn’t comment further until after the NTSB finishes its investigation.
“We support full transparency by providing all documents related to the March 2018 tragedy that impacted the South Florida community and our entire state,” said Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault in a news release. “Lives were lost and other lives have been changed forever, and we know these families, as well as the citizens of Florida, deserve answers and want closure.”
Last week the now bankrupt construction company that built the bridge and its insurers reached an agreement to pay up to $42 million to surviving victims of the collapse and the families of those killed.
The deal between Magnum Construction Management and the insurance companies involved the six killed and eight injured survivors. More than 20 other defendants are being sued by victims and they will have to reach their own deals with their insurers.