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Company behind Florida bridge that collapsed also was fined by Virginia after 2012 mishap in Hampton Roads
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Company behind Florida bridge that collapsed also was fined by Virginia after 2012 mishap in Hampton Roads

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One of the main construction companies behind the pedestrian bridge that collapsed Thursday at Florida International University previously was fined after part of a span it was building in Hampton Roads crashed onto railroad tracks below.

The June 2012 incident involved the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge over the Elizabeth River between Chesapeake and Portsmouth. It was being built by FIGG Bridge Engineers, based in Tallahassee, Fla.

Four workers suffered minor injuries when a 90-ton section of the bridge collapsed. The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry fined FIGG, saying that the company did not properly inspect a girder and had not obtained written consent from its manufacturer before modifying it, according to a story in The Virginian-Pilot at the time. The newspaper reported the state fined FIGG $28,000.

The accident delayed the bridge’s opening more than three months.

FIGG said in a statement after Thursday’s accident in Florida: "In our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before."

Another company building the Florida bridge also has faced questions about its past work.

Munilla Construction Management, or MCM, the Miami-based construction management firm that won the bridge contract, took its website down Thursday. But an archived version of the site featured a news release touting the project with FIGG.

MCM said on Twitter that it was "a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist. We will conduct a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and will cooperate with investigators on scene in every way."

Court documents show that MCM was accused of substandard work in a lawsuit filed earlier this month. The suit said a worker at Fort Lauderdale International Airport, where the company is working on an expansion, was injured when a makeshift MCM-built bridge collapsed under his weight.

The suit accused the company of employing "incompetent, inexperienced, unskilled or careless employees" at the job site.

A review of Occupational Safety Health Administration records shows that MCM has been fined for 11 safety violations in the last five years. The fines totaling more than $50,000 arose from complaints about unsafe trenches, cement dust and other problems at its Florida work sites.

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