Nearly $90G in Fines Issued for Failed FL Pedestrian Bridge

25 Sep, 2018 Liz Carey


Sweetwater, FL ( – Federal officials have fined the contractors who designed a failed pedestrian bridge, as well as the contractors who built it, nearly $90,000 for “serious” worker safety violations.

The fines are the result of the failure of a pedestrian bridge near the Florida International University (FIU). On March 15, the bridge collapsed onto the road below it, killing five motorists and one construction worker, and injuring dozens of others, including workers on the bridge. As previously reported on, one bridge worker said he heard cracks just prior to the bridge collapsing onto the live freeway below it.

According to OSHA, the companies failed to provide workers with the proper safety line and did not remove them from the bridge, or the construction site, despite the bridge developing several significant cracks in critical locations prior to the bridge’s collapse. 

OSHA cited five companies: FIGG Bridge Engineers; Munilla Construction Management (MCM); Bolton Perez & Associates; Structural Technologies and Structural Group of South Florida. In total, the companies were fined $86,658 in penalties for seven worker safety violations.

“Collectively, these employers failed to take appropriate action and provide the necessary protections to their employees while they were working on the bridge on the day it collapsed,” OSHA regional administrator Kurt A. Petermeyer said in a statement. 

The OSHA investigation is the first to be completed. A National Transportation and Safety Board investigation is still ongoing.

Images from the OSHA report show that cracks as much as four inches deep on the deck of the bridge. According to the report, the cracks appeared before the bridge was swung into place across Tamiami Trail roadway in front of the university.

“The cracks compromised the structural integrity of the bridge,” OSHA said in the report. 

A FIGG employee reported the cracks to the Florida Department of Transportation, but, in a voicemail, said the cracks were not a safety threat.

According to OSHA, employees should have been cleared off of the bridge and away from the “zone of danger” until the bridge was temporarily supported at the end of the bridge where the cracks appeared. 

Instead, workers continued to work on the bridge.

When the bridge collapsed, Navaro Brown, a 37-year-old worker from Jamaica, was working on the bridge when it collapsed. He died at a nearby hospital after being pulled from the rubble. Another worker, Kevin Hanson, was injured and subsequently went into a coma after the accident. He has since recovered. Five other workers were injured in the collapse. Five motorists, traveling below the bridge when it collapsed, died at the scene.

Officials said that the employees had been ordered on to the top of the bridge to tighten up rods running though the bridge to strengthen it. Engineering experts told the Miami Herald that a calculation error may have weakened the bridge at a key connection point where the cracks developed, and that weakness may have led to the collapse.

A spokesman for MCM said OSHA’s actions were a move in the right direction.

Michael Hernandez, a spokesman for Munilla Construction Management, said in a statement, “MCM views OSHA’s action as a positive first step toward understanding the root cause of this tragic accident. While MCM is still reviewing the OSHA fall protection citation, it is noteworthy that OSHA has not claimed that the cited conditions had anything to do with the FIU bridge span’s failure.”

Cherly Stopnick, spokeswoman for FIGG Bridge Design, did not respond to emails for comment by press time.

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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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