NTSB: Larger Cracks in Prefabricated Bridge After Move

Federal safety inspectors released new photos Thursday showing cracks in the concrete of an under-construction, pedestrian bridge just days before it collapsed near a Florida university.

The National Transportation Safety Board issued another preliminary report in the investigation of the March 15 collapse that killed a bridge worker and five vehicle occupants.

The agency had previously released Feb. 24 photos documenting small cracks at the ends of the bridge. The new photos featuring larger cracks were taken after March 10, when the prefabricated bridge was transported from a casting yard and set into place on permanent piers.

Investigators interviewed employees from eight companies involved in the bridge’s design and construction, the report said. Experts have also tested concrete, steel rods and a hydraulic jack. The report didn’t include any test results or conclusions about what might have caused the collapse.

The bridge was to span a busy highway and canal and connect Florida International University’s campus to the neighboring community of Sweetwater.

The bridge was highlighted by FIU officials as an achievement for an accelerated construction method that was supposed to reduce risks to workers and pedestrians and minimize traffic disruption.

When the bridge fell, construction was behind schedule and millions over budget, in part because of a key change in the design and placement of one of the span’s supports, public documents showed.