6 Year Anniversary of Tragic FIU Bridge Collapse Retriggers Pain

Published Date: March 18, 2024

Six years after the collapse of a pedestrian bridge near the campus of Florida International University, the general contractor behind the project has a new name and is still working on major projects. Friday marked six years since the collapse of the 174-foot-long, 950-ton pedestrian bridge in on Southwest 8th Street in southwest Miami-Dade. The victims included five people who were sitting in the cars underneath the bridge while stopped at a traffic light: Alberto Arias, 53, Brandon Brownfield, 39, FIU student Alexa Duran, 18, Rolando Fraga, 60, and his partner Oswaldo Gonzalez, 57. Construction worker Navaro Brown, 37, was also killed in the collapse.

The general contractor on the project was Munilla Construction Management (MCM), a Miami-based family business founded in 1983 and run by five siblings at the time of the collapse. According to its website, MCM has completed over 500 projects totaling some $2.4 billion in completed work. MCM had won the $14.2 million contract to build the pedestrian walkway after a long history of working on large-scale government contracts across Florida and the U.S. However, the company had also been cited for 11 safety violations, three of them “serious,” between 2014 to 2017, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration records.

Following the collapse, a Transportation Security Administration employee filed a lawsuit accusing the company of “shoddy work” after MCM allegedly placed a makeshift bridge at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport that collapsed under his weight. The lawsuit alleged that MCM “failed to utilize reasonable care in the design, planning, inspection and maintenance” of the make-shift bridge, adding it employed “incompetent, inexperienced, unskilled, or careless employees.” The company later changed its name to Magnum Construction Management and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March 2019, seeking to reorganize.

Despite the controversy surrounding the FIU bridge collapse and its aftermath, Broward County commissioners approved a contract with MCM for a project to make improvements at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport’s Terminal 1. The project’s contract price is $24,763,112.91 with another $4,327,462.83 for allowances. MCM insists they are a “safety first” company on their website, stating that all MCM projects are staffed with a qualified team of OSHA-trained construction professionals.

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Original Article by NBC6

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