Firm that helped build collapsed bridge in FL built one in CT - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Firm that helped build collapsed bridge in FL built one in CT

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A pedestrian bridge collapsed in Sweetwater, FL on Thursday and left several people dead. (CBS) A pedestrian bridge collapsed in Sweetwater, FL on Thursday and left several people dead. (CBS)
The Figg Group, a firm involved in constructing the collapsed bridge in FL, also helped build the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in New Haven. (WFSB) The Figg Group, a firm involved in constructing the collapsed bridge in FL, also helped build the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in New Haven. (WFSB)
MIAMI (WFSB) -

A newly installed pedestrian bridge collapse in Miami, FL on Thursday and left at least six people dead.

A firm involved with the project had a hand in one iconic bridge in Connecticut.

Search-and-rescue crews are using dogs, sensitive listening devices and drilling holes in some spots to insert fiber-optic cameras so they can see beneath the rubble.

They're looking for other potential victims.

The bridge was being built to connect the campus of Florida International University with the city of Sweetwater.

Investigators said they are looking into whether or not the accelerated construction method used to get the bridge in place quickly may have played a role.

"There will clearly be an investigation to find out exactly what happened and why this happened and we will hold anybody accountable if anybody's done anything wrong," said Gov. Rick Scott.

The partially constructed $14.2 million bridge had been assembled by the side of the highway and moved into place on Saturday.

One eyewitness was about to cross under the bridge when it fell onto the busy highway.

"I was sitting in front of it waiting for the light to change and I saw that it smashed a bunch of cars and there can't be anybody alive there," said Susie Bermudez, an eyewitness.

One of the firms involved in the project, the Figg Bridge Group, completed major projects in Connecticut. The firm has been accused of unsafe practices in the past.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation confirmed to Channel 3 that the Figg Bridge Group worked on the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in New Haven.

Channel 3 also learned that in June 2012, the company came under fire after a 90 ton portion of a bridge under construction in Virginia fell apart while it was being assembled.

The Virginia Pilot reported that four workers were hurt and state regulators fined Figg $28,000 for safety violations. The regulators said it was pure luck that no one was killed.

Quinnipiac University Professor of civil engineering Jose Alvarez says it's still too early to tell what happened in Florida.

"I was very surprised this day and age to get a failure during construction, it's very uncommon,” Alvarez said.

Investigators are looking into whether having the bridge pre-made to place it quickly could have played a role, but the practice is known to reduce risks.

"Accelerated construction which is actually better than a lot of cases of in place construction. There's a lot more quality checks along the way,” Alvarez said.

In 2014, accelerated construction was used to put in two bridges over I-84 in Southington, and it not only saved time and money but it went through dozens of safety checks along the way.

While Figg has been cited for safety issues in the past in other states, in Connecticut, the DOT says it's not happening on their bridges.

“I can verify for you and certify for you that all of the structures that we are responsible for, and there are some 4,000 bridges in the state of Connecticut are all 100 percent safe for the motoring public to be on,” said DOT spokesperson Kevin Nursick.

Connecticut has over 100 structurally deficient bridges, but that's to be expected.

“It is normal for a bridge during its lifespan to get to a point where it is deemed structurally deficient and that engages a rehabilitation or reconstruction or replacement project,” Nursick said.

The DOT says they are working every day to make sure the bridges traveled are safe.

“We inspect all of these structures routinely and we do it thoroughly in great detail at least once every two years,” he added.

The DOT has already curtailed $4 billion worth of projects based on the special transportation fund shortfall, but says inspections will not be impacted and a bridge would close first before it would get to the point where someone could get hurt.

The bridge being built in Florida was supposed to be built to make the area safer after a student was killed last year trying to cross a street.

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