FDOT should learn from Giménez’s deadly failures, put safety above politics in selecting new FIU bridge construction firm
MIAMI FL: Two years after the tragic collapse of a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University that killed six, Florida’s Department of Transportation announced its plan for a new bridge project yesterday.
“Over and over, Corrupt Carlos Giménez has doled out public money to his friends, family, and donors. He favored extending a $130 million contract to the firm who built the original bridge, because of his deep family ties to the firm,” said Steve Simeonidis, Chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party. “Governor DeSantis and Transportation Secretary Thibault must avoid this mistake. The next FIU bridge contract should go to a firm that does competent, safe work, not a political insider.”
Timeline: Corrupt Carlos and the tragic FIU bridge collapse
March 15, 2018: FIU bridge collapses, killing six people.
March 19, 2018: the Miami Herald reports that the company that built the FIU bridge “hired both of Gimenez's sons -- Julio as a construction executive and C.J. as a registered lobbyist” in past years. The Herald reported that “the mayor's wife, Lourdes, is a cousin to the Munilla brothers, and C.J. Gimenez has offered the firm pro bono communications advice after the bridge collapse.”
July 23, 2019: Corrupt Carlos asks county commissioners to extend the firm’s $130 million airport contract.
July 28, 2019: Corrupt Carlos, his wife, and the firm’s owner are spotted on Instagram, vacationing together in Chicago.
Two years after a flawed construction project led to the collapse of a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University, the state said Wednesday it was ready to resume the project with “enhanced safety measures.”
Florida’s Department of Transportation announced a two-year design process will begin in 2021 on a new bridge over Eighth Street that will connect the state school’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus to residential facilities in Sweetwater.
A federal probe faulted designers of FIU’s failed bridge project for not spotting safety flaws and authorities for not closing streets during the delicate period where a nearly completed bridge was hoisted into place over the busy road in early 2018. The bridge collapsed on March 15, 2018, killing six people.
The 2019 report from the National Transportation Safety Board faulted all parties involved in the effort for not acting on clear red flags related to the bridge’s safety, including FIU, which hired the firms for the project, and FDOT, which has authority over Eighth Street and was part of the team overseeing planning and construction.
Florida’s Transportation Department “has learned valuable lessons since the tragic events surrounding the FIU bridge collapse two years ago,” Kevin J. Thibault, transportation secretary under Gov. Ron DeSantis, said Wednesday in a statement. “The Department will ensure all safety measures are in place and are followed so we may provide a safe option for pedestrians in this high-traffic area.”
The Department of Transportation said it would manage the new construction project.
The release cited a June 2017 death of an FIU student who was trying to cross Eighth Street as a reason to resume the pursuit of a pedestrian overpass for the school. Construction would take two years after the design process, according to the release, suggesting a completion date in 2025.
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