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Miami bridge collapse echoes in Minnesota

Since 2007, Minnesota residents pay particularly close attention to news of bridge collapses. That year, while under construction, the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River, near downtown Minneapolis, collapsed under the weight of construction equipment and rush hour traffic. While uncommon, these kinds of catastrophic failures are perilous to the both general public and the workers who are on the job at the site.

Another tragic construction accident, with echoes of the I-35W bridge disaster, just occurred in Miami. A pedestrian bridge that was to link Florida International University to the Miami suburb of Sweetwater collapsed as workers were tightening the cables designed to suspend the span over the road, resulting in several injuries and deaths. The investigation is still underway, and it may be some time before the cause of the collapse is determined.

The Miami tragedy hits close to home in Minnesota not only due to the similarities between the two accidents, but also because the firm behind the design of the collapsed Miami bridge also designed the bridge that replaced the collapsed I-35W bridge. This by no means suggests that the replacement I-35W bridge is defective. However, news reports indicate that the coincidence sent a collective shiver down the spines of Twin Cities residents.

Whether the defect that caused the Miami collapse was a flaw in the design or construction of the bridge, the fact remains that such defects present tremendous risks to the public as well as to the workers who labor on such sites every day. The unfortunate truth is that such risks are not often apparent until it is too late and someone has been injured, or worse. At that point, only the law offers any recourse to victims.

Source: Star Tribune, "Designer of fallen Florida bridge also did new I-35W span in Minneapolis," Jeremy Olson, March 16, 2018

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