Deadly Miami bridge collapse is sparking questions among Florida officials

The pedestrian bridge was supposed to keep FIU students safe; now officials want to know how it happened.

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click to enlarge A Facebook user streamed dramatic video from the scene of the pedestrian bridge collapse that killed at least six in South Florida Thursday. - Screen grab
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A Facebook user streamed dramatic video from the scene of the pedestrian bridge collapse that killed at least six in South Florida Thursday.

The death toll from Thursday's pedestrian bridge collapse at the Florida International University Collapse has reached six. Officials fear that number may grow as workers sort through the rubble.

In the collapse's aftermath, local elected leaders want answers on how such a catastrophe could have happened.

The bridge was under construction at the time and, as the Washington Post reports, it was being constructed using a new method. Notably, FIGG Bridge Engineers, the firm that designed this bridge, also designed the Sunshine Skyway.

The main builder behind the project is Munilla Construction Management. It was supposed to open to the public early next year. 

The aim was to protect pedestrians accessing the campus from nearby towns by allowing them to bypass busy Southwest Eighth Street. A pedestrian had been killed trying to cross the street there last year. Republican U.S. Rep. from Miami Carlos Curbelo called the collapse, which crushed mulitple cars that had been stopped at a red light below, a "sad irony."

Miami State Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Democrat, issued a written statement expressing sympathy for the victims and thanking the first responders, but she also vowed to "get to the bottom of" what happened.

“As such, I also want to add my outrage that this happened. We must protect our students and our residents!" he statement read. "I am promising to my constituents, and to Miami-Dade as a whole, as the only Senator from Miami who sits on the Senate Transportation committee to get to the bottom of this disaster and hold those who are responsible accountable."

Mario Diaz-Balart, another Miami Republican, said he wants to look into what led to the disaster at the congressional level as well.

"We're going to find out what the heck happened here. This is beyond tragic," Diaz-Balart told the Tampa Bay Times.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), meanwhile, noted on Twitter that the cables that were suspending the bridge had become loose and "were being tightened" at the time of the collapse.

On Friday, Taddeo sent a letter to Governor Rick Scott asking that he suspend tolls on a nearby stretch of Florida turnpike through March 20 to help ease traffic issues stemming from the incident.

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