FIGG Bridge Engineers, Inc. You may not have heard of them. But they’ve designed a few popular Virginia bridges you may be familiar with.
The South Norfolk Jordan Bridge – which “links Chesapeake and Portsmouth Virginia with a new high-level fixed span bridge that allows for continuous flow of vehicular, rail, river and pedestrian traffic – was completed in 2012 using 100% private funding.
However, “FIGG was fined $28,000 when the Jordan Bridge collapsed during construction, injuring several workers.” (Source)
The Smart Road Bridge – linking Virginia Tech and Interstate 81 – crosses the Ellett Valley and is “part of the nationally recognized Smart Road Research Facility for technological advancements in the transportation industry.”
The Varina-Enon Bridge may be the more well known local bridge for us in Central Virginia. Part of I-295, this bridge “features the world’s first use of precast concrete delta frames for construction of its 630′ cable-stayed main span.” Six lanes of traffic cross over the James River with this structure. It even withstood a tornado on August 6, 1993. Although it overturned some trucks, there was no damage to the bridge.
“This bridge has had a lot of attention in its 28 years,” says Jeff Hill, the VDOT Richmond District bridge engineer. “We want the public to know that the Varina-Enon Bridge is safe. It is inspected. We routinely provide routine maintenance on all structures – especially on this one.” Inspections are done every two years, with inspectors taking an in-depth look every fourth year. (Source)
However, the firm has been a popular topic in the news lately, as it was also the designer of the Florida International University pedestrian bridge, which collapsed last week.
The image below reveals the bridge on March 10, 2018, as it was being positioned to connect Sweetwater, FL to FIU early in the morning.
Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) claimed on his Twitter account last Thursday that the cables suspending the bridge had loosened, and although the engineering firm took action, the bridge collapsed as they were being tightened. Ironically enough, the bridge was constructed in the first place because of the death of a student crossing the intersection a year ago. (Source)
The bridge was constructed using accelerated construction techniques, which were advanced by Florida International University. It was built using $14 million funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation “with a new modular construction method that would minimize traffic disruptions and reduce risks to workers and pedestrians.” (Source)
However, just two days before the bridge collapsed, an engineer with FIGG “called the state to report cracks in the concrete span.” (Source)
An article on FIU’s website says “construction of the bridge began in the spring of 2017 and is expected to be completed in early 2019. When it is finished, the bridge will be 289 feet long and 109 feet tall. The 32-foot-wide bridge will also serve as study and gathering space.” It is obvious how exciting this job was to the people of this city.
“MCM, the Miami-based construction management firm who won the bridge contract, said in a statement that it was ‘devastated and doing everything we can to assist.’
“‘We will conduct a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and will cooperate with investigators on scene in every way,’ the company wrote on its Facebook page.” (Source)