An engineer working on the pedestrian bridge at Florida International University (FIU) that collapsed this week says he reported cracks in the bridge days before the collapse.
The New York Times reports that Figg Bridge Engineers' lead engineer on the project W. Denney Pate left a voicemail for a Florida Department of Transportation official reporting cracking on the north end of the bridge that was not considered a safety concern at the time.
The voicemail, however, was ignored until Friday, a day after the collapse, because the transportation employee was out of the office.
“We’ve taken a look at it and, uh, obviously some repairs or whatever will have to be done, but from a safety perspective we don’t see that there’s any issue there so we’re not concerned about it from that perspective,” reads a transcription of Pate's voicemail obtained by the Times.
“Although obviously the cracking is not good and something’s going to have to be, you know, done to repair that," he added.
Florida's Department of Transportation on Friday laid the blame for the bridge's failure on FIU's team that commissioned the bridge.
“The responsibility to identify and address life-safety issues and properly communicate them is the sole responsibility of the F.I.U. design-build team,” the agency said.
Figg Bridge Engineers said in a statement that it was “heartbroken by the loss of life and injuries, and are carefully examining the steps that our team has taken in the interest of our overarching concern for public safety.”
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) launched an investigation Friday morning into the bridge's collapse, which occurred Thursday and killed at least six people, according to Florida officials.
The NTSB was deploying a team of 15 specialists with experience in civil engineering, material science and survival factors to investigate the collapse.