First-of-its-kind pedestrian bridge “swings” into place

Construction marvel to connect FIU to Sweetwater

Construction marvel to connect FIU to Sweetwater

On March 10, the main span of the FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity Bridge was lifted from its temporary supports, rotated 90 degrees across an eight-lane thoroughfare, and lowered into its permanent position.

“FIU is about building bridges and student safety. This project accomplishes our mission beautifully,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “We are filled with pride and satisfaction at seeing this engineering feat come to life and connect our campus to the surrounding community where thousands of our students live.”

The 174-foot, 950-ton section of the bridge was built adjacent to Southwest Eight Street using Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) methods, which are being advanced at FIU’s Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center (ABC-UTC). This method of construction reduces potential risks to workers, commuters and pedestrians and minimizes traffic interruptions. The main span of the FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity Bridge was installed in a few hours with limited disruption to traffic over this weekend.

“This project is an outstanding example of the ABC method,” said chair of FIU’s Civil & Environmental Engineering Department and director of FIU’s ABC-UTC Atorod Azizinamini, who is one of the world’s leading experts on Accelerated Bridge Construction. “Building the major element of the bridge – its main span superstructure – outside of the traveled way and away from busy Eighth Street is a milestone.”

The FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity Bridge is the largest pedestrian bridge moved via Self-Propelled Modular Transportation in U.S. history. It is also the first in the world to be constructed entirely of self-cleaning concrete. When exposed to sunlight, the titanium dioxide in the concrete captures pollutants and turns it bright white, reducing maintenance costs.

“FIU has come a long way since the TIGER grant that funded this pedestrian bridge was awarded in 2013. This project represents a true collaboration among so many different partners at local, state, and federal levels, and in both the public and private sectors,” said Mario Diaz-Balart, U.S. Representative and Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. “The university’s growth and acceleration is no longer just about the campus and its student body; it’s about the future of Sweetwater, Miami-Dade County and the entire South Florida region. I believe this is what creative solutions to transportation challenges look like, and I will continue to support and incentivize these new ideas.”

Bridge fish eye

Funding for the $14.2 million bridge, connecting plazas and walkways is part of a $19.4 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Other funding agencies include the Federal Highway Administration, Florida Department of Transportation Local Agency Program, FIU and the City of Sweetwater.

“The FIU-Sweetwater bridge will serve many purposes including being a visually distinctive gateway to our city,” said City of Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez. “This bridge is symbolic of the growth our city is experiencing and our partnership with FIU.”

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.

“This bridge is the result of great support from our congressional delegation and the U.S. Department of Transportation,” said FIU Senior Vice President and CFO Kenneth Jessell. “This bridge has already been the catalyst for significant economic development in the City of Sweetwater. FIU and our surrounding community will benefit from this project for generations to come.”

The bridge was designed by FIGG Bridge Engineers and built by MCM. Barnhart Crane and Rigging operated the Self-Propelled Modular Transporters that placed the bridge on its permanent supports.

For more information on the FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity Bridge, please click here.

For renderings, videos and images of the move, please click here.

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