Crack in FIU pedestrian bridge didn't raise red flags before it collapsed

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A 37-year-old construction worker and a Florida International University student are among the victims of the Florida bridge collapse that killed at least six people on Thursday.

However, the voicemail message from FIGG's lead engineer Denney Pate, including his assertion that the cracking posed no safety issue, was not retrieved until Friday, a day after the tragedy, according to the state transportation agency.

She called the collapse an "unprecedented event" and wrote that "no other bridge designed by FIGG Bridge Engineers has ever experienced such a collapse".

At a news conference Friday night, officials from the National Transportation Safety Board said they have just begun their investigation, and can not yet say whether any cracking contributed to the collapse. "Although obviously the cracking is not good and something's going to have to be, you know, done to fix that".

The unnamed FDOT employee whose landline the message was left on was said to be out of the office on assignment for three days, and did not hear the message until after the bridge's collapse.

As the 950-ton concrete bridge section was swung into place over a highway last weekend, Florida International University officials were beaming with pride.

"The responsibility to identify and address life-safety issues and properly communicate them is the sole responsibility of the FIU design build team", the transportation department said.

The three bodies were among the six fatalities believed to have occurred in the collapse Thursday afternoon, but authorities said that number could rise as vehicles are removed. The evaluation was based on the best available information at that time and indicated that there were no safety issues.

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FIU President Mark Rosenberg said Friday that crews had been performing stress tests on the bridge before the collapse in an effort to test the "resiliency of the concrete".

"We've had a good relationship with FDOT - I just want to make it clear", he said.

But in ABC projects like the FIU span, the loss of the extra support from the main tower during construction is a risk, he said. They had not been installed at this point because the second part of the bridge had not been built or installed.

Juan Perez, the director of Miami-Dade police department, said criminal charges were possible once exhaustive inquiries by his detectives and state and federal authorities were complete.

Representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating.

"I would have to say that a crack in the bridge does not necessarily mean it's unsafe", he said. 'That's a question for them to answer'.

Some are wondering why FIGG was awarded the FIU contract. Another of the mayor's sons, Julio Gimenez, also used to work for MCM as a construction executive, according to the newspaper. Two of his co-workers are among the nine injured. A TSA worker at Fort Lauderdale airport filed a lawsuit against Munilla alleging "shoddy work" that caused injuries in another footbridge project. Another dispute resulted in a $143,000 judgment against MCM over an "arguable collapse" at a Miami-Dade bridge project.

"Both companies expressed condolences for the victims and promised cooperation with investigators".

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