China-Style Bridge Collapse in Florida Raises Questions

Something was clearly wrong with the bridge. An engineer for bridge contractor FIGG noticed cracks in the structure two days before the collapse. But his message was overlooked until the day after the collapse.

FIU Bridge Collapse Reminiscent of Multiple Chinese Collapse Events
Image : Reuters via ET

This Kind of Thing is Expected in China

In China, due to shoddy materials and construction methods, the collapse of new bridges, buildings, tunnels, and other constructions are near commonplace and often go virtually unreported. So when a China-style bridge collapse occurs outside of China, one naturally looks for any possible participation by Chinese companies in the construction process, or materials used.

Important Note: At the time of the collapse, stress testing of the new bridge was reportedly underway. This would have brought out any inherent weaknesses in the bridge structure. If this is true, it is unclear why traffic was not routed away from the bridge during the testing.

From a Few Minutes of Internet Fact-Checking

The designer and installer of the bridge, FIGG Bridge Group, has no obvious China connections, on the surface.

The company that constructed the bridge, Munilla Construction Management (MCM), is another story. MCM officials have been photographed with Yan Jiehe, the billionaire head of China’s huge Pacific Construction Group, while he was scouting US companies for acquisition.

[Paul] Manafort was helping China’s largest privately owned builder, Pacific Construction Group, identify U.S. construction firms it could acquire, including MCM, which has a multimillion-dollar Pentagon contract to develop a school for the U.S. Navy at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. A photograph shows Manafort and Yan Jiehe, the billionaire who heads Pacific, with Jorge and Fernando Munilla of the Miami-based construction firm. __ Source

Since MCM actually built the bridge — which was already displaying cracks days before the collapse — questions of possible shoddy materials must be asked. And “shoddy materials” are a hallmark of Chinese construction methods — including shoddy steel and shoddy concrete.

Who Supplied the Concrete for the FIU Bridge?

Mexican company CEMEX supplied the concrete for the collapsed bridge, and CEMEX has Chinese connections that go back several years.

CEMEX’s operations in China, Tianjin and Qingdao, were awarded the “China Top 10 Influential Ready-mix Concrete Enterprise in 2010” prize during a sustainable development forum that took place in Wuhan, Hubei Province. __

Preliminary evidence is incomplete and circumstantial. It will take time to collect more information and to trace the current ownership information for both MCM and CEMEX — and the actual source for the specific concrete used in the FIU bridge construction. But all signs currently point toward shoddy construction methods and/or shoddy materials.

Update: Shoddy final assembly plus failure to re-route traffic away from ongoing construction and testing are both coming into focus as proximal causes of the death and destruction at FIU. Watch this video (ROUGH LANGUAGE ALERT!) for more clues. It appears that the crew responsible for final on-site assembly may not have followed the designers’ specifications, nor did they appear to have followed safe engineering practises for hazardous construction in the presence of civilian traffic.

It is likely that a combination of errors — including on-site human error and faulty bureaucratic decision-making — contributed to this fatal disaster. Several critics have pointed out the politically correct nature of the “affirmative action” hiring practises of some of the groups involved in the design and construction of the FIU bridge. Placing less qualified persons in positions of critical responsibility for reasons of sex, ethnicity, political connections, or other reasons other than personal competence, is a distinct flaw of big money projects around the world.

Accelerated Bridge Construction Overview

Over a 30 year period, China was the recipient of foreign investment and technology transfer on a grandiose scale. As a direct consequence, massive cash reserves were built up, which are being used in an attempt to gain control of global ports and other transportation facilities, engineering and construction concerns around the world, manufacturing and technology assets in more advanced nations, and any other projects and enterprises that might help China to gain global influence and control.

The San Francisco Bay Bridge fiasco is an object lesson for other governments to beware of Chinese offering cheap construction bids. Given the general stupidity and corruption of politicians and government bureaucrats, it is unlikely that they will be wary enough of the grifters from the middle kingdom.

And that means that taxpayers will continue to suffer for the low quality governments that they have allowed to persist for so long.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood ©.


Informal general engineering analysis of disaster

Video showing one side of the bridge as it collapses

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5 Responses to China-Style Bridge Collapse in Florida Raises Questions

  1. bob sykes says:

    The so-called “stress testing” was actually post-tensioning of cables in the concrete. It is intended to put the bridge deck into compression so that it would be self-supporting until the cable-stayed pier was erected. This is a standard procedure in reinforced concrete design and construction, and failures are rare. Something very unusual happened to that bridge. Most likely, diversity.

    • alfin2101 says:

      Yes, post-tensioning is certainly a more accurate description of what was happening.

      The idea that post-modern multicultural diversity was a contributing factor to the tragedy is an ongoing meme in background discussions by persons of the non-PC persuasion.

      • Improbus says:

        Because it couldn’t be materials graft or shoddy construction practices. Much better to place the blame on the hard hats.

        • alfin2101 says:

          It does not have to be an “either-or” situation. Shoddy materials in the steel and/or concrete would not make a situation involving poor on-the-job decision-making any better.

    • James says:

      One comment: the bridge wasnt a cable stayed structure. The ‘cable stays’ were ornamental and superfluous. The main section that was placed was ‘structurally’ complete.

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