Construction of the pedestrian bridge that collapsed and killed six people in the Miami area was behind schedule and millions over budget, in part because of a key change in the design and placement of one of its support towers. Documents obtained by the AP through a public-records request show that the Florida Department of Transportation in October 2016 ordered Florida International University and its contractors to move one of the bridge's main support structures 11 feet north to the edge of a canal, widening the gap between the crossing's end supports and requiring some new structural design. The span's signature, 109-foot-tall pylon was to be built atop a footing, or base, at the northern end of the span. Videos of the collapse show that the concrete, prefabricated segment of the bridge started crumbling on the same end of the span where the tower redesign occurred, two days after an engineer on the project reported cracks in the same location.
The segment that failed had been placed atop the pylon's footing, and the taller tower section was to be installed later. Though it is still unclear if the design change played a role in the failure, emails between the school, contractors, officials with the city of Sweetwater and permitting agencies show a project that ended up behind schedule, which had officials worried that further delays could jeopardize millions in federal Department of Transportation funds. When the bridge collapsed, the project was already running about $2.6 million over its $9.4 million initial budget, cost-tracking documents from February show. Originally scheduled to be completed in July, the finish date had been pushed back to January 2019. Click for much more on the design change and whether it could have played a role in the collapse.