(1) Thread #2: Bridge Collapse - Live updates on Florida International University, (FIU) Miami bridge collapse.

Thread #1 (link below) reached 44 tweets on the first day, so it's time to start another.

(2) The above rendering of what the end product would have looked like shows the most obvious of the design flaws: a very wide span relying on overhead suspension cables for load bearing. Engineers apparently thought they could install all 950 tons without the cables.🤔
(3) This project was in the 8th of 9 years to completion. That's about standard for such a project. I think we're going to see that mistakes were made at every level of the process, by multiple institutions. Checks and balances did not work.

Florida has a big problem.
(4) Of course, such system failures can happen anywhere. But even in this evening's press conference it was clear that state and local government systems are not delivering for citizens there. I'll write a separate thread on that.
(5) This is a good round-up of where things are at atm: wsvn.com/news/local/4-p…

Fire Dept has confirmed 4 deaths. People were injured while walking under the bridge and construction workers on top of it were also injured, some critically.
(6) During the briefing, Gov Scott made sure to mention that this project is the responsibility of FIU, not the FL DoT.


A state DoT has quite a few responsibilities in a project such as this.

Here's their hastily written fact sheet: fdot.gov/info/CO/news/n…
(7) As a PR adviser, I never served in a role as important as the one held by Dick Kane, Comms Director of the Florida DoT, but I would be better at it than he is.

He got the Fact Sheet all wrong. It reads more like a Don't Blame Us We Did Nothing Wrong plea than a Fact Sheet.
(8) Yes, it's important for the state DoT to communicate that it's not their project. But Dick said it 8 times in the one-pager, including a lengthy section in bold font.

Calm down, Dick.

It wasn't necessary to labor the point, it's insensitive to others, & you look dodgy.
(9) I've worked in a transportation agency. Dick was probably a roading engineer before he was a comms guy. It shows.

Roading engineers write a document as if it's part of an operations manual. But this document will stand alone, representing the state government.
(10) Not to blow my own trumpet, but policy analysts who are used to seeing the big picture, including the political realities and litigation risks, make better comms advisers than subject matter experts like engineers or scientists.

Which may be a lesson for state govt CEOs.
(11) This DoT Fact Sheet is very important to this case. The DoT admits that their "routine review" of the contracting documentation failed to raise the alarm that the FIU had broken the rules by engaging a non "pre-qualified firm" for the secondary review. One of many errors.
(12) Both the FIU and the state govt (via its DoT) are claiming in one breath that they did everything right, but the fact they didn't is obvious by looking at the design itself and reading the DoT's own Fact Sheet. And this is just Day 1, folks. We're going to find a lot more.
(13) It's maddening. I've felt exasperated today, and so have many others I've been reading on Twitter and in DMs. Florida local & state government practices are bad. But I know they're not confined to FL. Incompetence & not taking responsibility are endemic throughout the US.
(14) I love America, greatest country ever. My number one reason is the Constitutional system of govt that secures maximum freedom & ability to address poor performance by govt. Since Woodrow Wilson, the system has weakened. Trump's #DrainTheSwamp is necessary but not enough.
(15) Citizens must work to drain the swamp of corruption AND incompetence in their town, city, county, state, college, and other institutions. It's going to take a long time. Each tragedy offers lessons.

Until we learn the lessons, the pattern will keep repeating.
(16) OK, some words about steel. IMO (industry experience) even the finest American made steel could have been used in this structure and it would still have collapsed, because of causes having nothing to do with the steel. But we will see, ofc.
(17) For a structure like this to be strong & durable, you need:

>Steel rods made to the required standard
>Steel joins (welds) done to the required standard
>Rods close enough together
>Every crossover point properly tied
>Not exposed to the elements for too long

(18) Then you need:

>Ingredients of the concrete at the required standard
>Mixed in the right quantities
>Poured to the required thickness
>Allowed to cure in the correct way

Any of these steel or concrete variables could cause a failure.
(19) The manufacturing of the steel rods and plates is one of several variables in the above. Then there are the design specs themselves. Someone claimed the order of construction of the bridge components would be safe. That claim is highly suspect now.
(20) Even if there was no traffic underneath at this stage of construction, there were construction workers on top of the structure who deserved safety. Some of them were injured, two of them critically.

I welcome the lawsuits. But the cost will lead to premium increases.
(21) Guess which university hosts the only Accelerated Bridge Construction (instant bridge method) research center in the USA?

FIU does.

Do you see any missing terms in the statement below? (Rhetorical question).

(22) While duration, preservation, service life and cost are important, so is SAFETY.

SAFETY must always come first. It must never be compromised. Sadly, in governments the world over, it often is.

Who can change this? Citizens.
(23) I don't think the ABC method necessarily had anything directly to do with this collapse. But I'm using the fact FIU has this center to make the point.

I think the order of the project stages was the main cause + not closing the road for long enough + whatever else is found
(25) Confirmed death toll now 6. Number in hospital is 10. Others with minor injuries were discharged.

Late last night officials declared the operation is no longer a rescue and is now a recovery.😐

(26) The NTSB team will give a press briefing at 9am, in just under 3 hours' time. The local Police Chief gave a briefing in the last hour, I am watching it now and will report back.
(17) Nothing substantial to add after watching the Police Information Officer's 5am briefing. He confirmed 6 were dead, and that the operation had moved from rescue to recovery, indicating they do not believe anyone else is trapped there alive. Sad.
(18) Excellent links here about FIGG's 2012 partial bridge collapse that IIRC injured 4 workers. Thank you Spicy, it may take me a few hours to get to these so in the meantime, those interested can read the links below.
(19) Here's hoping I will have provided updates by then of the tidbits I've gathered since last night. (I am easily distracted, lol)

(20) Breaking: Unsurprising news is unsurprising.

(21) I just realized if I was watching the NTSB briefing live I could get all these updates in real time. Oh well, I'll need to find the video. The cable networks will be showing the briefing live I'd say.
(22) Thanks to @Ph0nograf for sending me this dashcam video of the bridge collapsing. It's at double speed so you'll need to adjust your settings. Graphic warning: Two construction workers get seriously injured.

Buy a dashcam for your own risk mgmt.

(23) Here's an easier to use version of the bridge collapse video. It happens at 00m07s in. You only see one worker getting injured & it's not as bad as from other angles. Useful video for showing what happened at that moment.

(24) Today (Day 3) there hasn't been much new information. All 5 bodies that were under the collapsed span have been recovered and taken to the coroner. The other death occurred at the hospital.

(25) The above article includes this piece of information:
(26) Even if the observed cracking would not have been deemed a safety issue by a competent independent engineer, that doesn't mean the way it was handled was acceptable. I'll explain why.
(27) I already have my doubts about the systems required by the contracts for this project. They could have been perfectly appropriate systems that were ignored; or inadequate systems, which failed to provide the surety funders & regulators need; or a combination of these.
(28) In the US, it doesn't matter who funds a large bridge project, who hires and manages the contractors, who the contractors are, or whose road it crosses, the same minimum standards of operational systems, and documentation of such, must be met.
(29) In this case the organizations are:

Funder: US DoT
Funder's monitoring agent: FL DoT
Procurer/client: FIU
Contractors: FIGG & MCM (with sub-Cs)
Road owner: FL DoT (a different division)

Responsibilities between these must be precisely documented, and enforceable.
(30) Standard practice would be for the FL DoT to pre-approve that documentation shows the FIU has specified to FIGG & MCM that if ANY concerns like cracking arise, one of them will immediately close the road, while it is evaluated to the satisfaction of the FIU, as the client.
(31) As you'd expect, this belt-and-braces approach leads to a lot of unexpected road closures. Internationally, funders & procurers are addressing that problem & one way is the ABC method, explained earlier. FIU is an ABC research center & this project was to be a showcase.
(32) If you sell the idea of fewer road closures using ABC, which is more expensive, then it would take courage (& brains) to say STOP! while we investigate these cracks that appeared 5 days after installing this span across your very busy road.
(33) On 2/22/11 in NZ, 115 people were crushed to their deaths by a 1980s building engineers had deemed safe after an earthquake 5 months prior. (The #CTVBuilding). Some of them survived many hours, injured, in the darkness, talking with loved ones by phone, only to die there.
(34) I was across town that day, working from home. It was the most frightening experience of my life. I heard about the collapsed bldg an hour later and knew there would be many deaths. I moved out of that city soon after & now I'm an #earthquake preparedness nut. Proud of it.
(35) It's true, you can't trust experts and there are no guarantees in life. But almost all of the time, a well-regulated engineering profession will use the best available information to reduce risk as much as possible. Preventing future tragedies will take reform.
(36) I believe policy analysts in FL & DC already know what reforms are needed to assure the public that everything is being done to prevent another fatal bridge/ structure/ building collapse. They don't need to wait for the investigation.

ANY site in doubt must be closed NOW.
(37) The engineering profession must step up and tell regulators which structures are of concern. They must be enabled to do this without fear or favor. That is one hell of an ask when the national #DrainTheSwamp project is not yet completed. it is a matter of honor and courage.
(38) An urgent reform needed across all areas is effective whistleblower protection. Such a law doesn't let a Manning risk lives & walk free; it lets a Flynn save lives by taking action without having their life ruined.

Some engineers keep quiet to save their own skin.
(39) Other engineers keep quiet because they're incompetent or greedy. It's the ones who are competent, honorable and want to blow the whistle, but they know people get killed, or bankrupted, or their kids terrorized, so they walk away. They change jobs and hope for the best.
(40) Absent or ineffective whistleblower protection across every profession and industry is killing innocent people. When will we demand better? I don't know.

Certainly, electing Trump has gotten us halfway to a safer USA & world. We have more work to do.
(41) I will bring you a daily update on the bridge collapse aftermath, for several more days. Tomorrow I will probably start Thread #3. The link to it will be here.

Thanks for reading and commenting thus far.
(42) Good.
(43) My earlier comments about the FL DoT and FIU's respective roles and the game-playing since the collapse are being vindicated, ie this report:

(44) Rest in peace:

Alberto Arias, 54
Navaro Brown, 37
Alexa Duran, 18
Rolando Fraga Hernandez, 60
Osvaldo Gonzalez, 57
Brandon Brownfield, 39


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