The collapse of a pedestrian bridge in Miami last week is raising questions about "accelerated bridge construction," something that happens across the country and here in the Mountain West. These so-called "instant bridges" are where most of the bridge is built off-site and then installed.
Amy Ford, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation, doesn’t think we should be pointing fingers at all bridges built this way because there are safety measures in place. "Any bridge construction whether it be traditional or accelerated," she says, has "a very extensive process" for inspection.
And, she says, we’ve been building them for almost 20 years.
Most bridges are still built in the traditional way but the accelerated method is becoming more common. Ford says there are some clear advantages--for one, it can be faster. And, she says, "it helps us minimize the impact to the traveling public, where we don’t have to close lanes, we’re not down as much on our traffic."
Other states throughout the Mountain West, including Utah, Montana, and Idaho, have also built instant bridges. As to what happened in Florida, says Ford, “time will tell here if this was just tragic errors or something else.”
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.