Firm Inspecting New London's Gold Star Bridge Project Also Designed Collapsed Florida Pedestrian Bridge

Project inspection and oversite for the rehabilitation of the southbound Gold Star Bridge structure on I-95 in New London and Groton, due to be completed later this year, is being conducted by the Connecticut Department of Transportation and FIGG Bridge Inspection.  FIGG, whose logo appears prominently on the website devoted to providing the public with project information, is the firm that designed the pedestrian bridge that collapsed at Florida International University on Thursday. The Gold Star Memorial Bridge, described as “Connecticut’s most iconic structure,” is the largest bridge in the State of Connecticut. It is 6,000 feet long and over 150 feet tall at the center span. The bridge is actually a pair of steel truss bridges that span over the Thames River, between New London and Groton, according to the project website.

The project was awarded to Mohawk Northeast in December 2016 and onsite activities began a year ago, in April 2017. Project inspection and oversight, conducted by the state Department of Transportation and FIGG Bridge Inspection, is anticipated to be completed by late Fall this year.

UPDATE:  The Miami Herald is reporting that an engineer from FIGG working on the Florida project notified the state two days before the collapse of cracking on the bridge.  

FIGG has its headquarters in Tallahassee with offices in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Texas and Colorado, the Miami Herald reported. The company specializes in all types of bridge design and focuses solely on bridge design and engineering both in the U.S. and abroad, according to the company's website. The FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity Bridge is the largest pedestrian bridge moved via Self-Propelled Modular Transportation in U.S. history, the University's website noted prior to the collapse.

The newspaper also reported that FIGG, which provides design, engineering and construction services, was cited by the Virginia Department of Labor for four violations in 2012 after a 90-ton piece of concrete fell from a bridge under construction near Norfolk, Virginia.

At the Gold Star Bridge, plans call for the structure’s expansion joints to be replaced, as well as overhead sign structures, according to the project website. In total, the bridge has more than 1,000,000 square feet of deck surface area spread over 11 vehicle traffic lanes and a pedestrian sidewalk. The average daily traffic count is 117,000 vehicles.

“Repairs and maintenance of the bridge’s structural steel includes steel girder end repairs, bolt replacements, and bearing replacement and maintenance.  Repairs to the substructure include concrete repairs and crack sealing,” the website explains.

The site notes that “During off peak hours the number of lanes may be reduced to accommodate repairs and improvements,” and there will be periodic closures of the sidewalk.

The company’s website touts “FIGG's exclusive focus on bridge design and construction engineering inspection enables us to provide state of the art technology, innovative aesthetics and materials, and a unique capacity to partner for research.”

After the 2007 collapse of the Highway 35 West bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, FIGG built a $233.8 million 10-lane replacement bridge, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.  It was heralded for its state-of-the-art safety systems, including sensors designed to monitor bridge stress and corrosion.

FIGG focuses solely on bridge design and engineering both in the U.S. and abroad. Since 1978, the company has built, studied and designed $10 billion in bridges in 39 states and six countries, according to its website.

The Northbound Gold Star Bridge was built 30 years prior to its sister Southbound Gold Star Bridge.  Repairs on the Northbound bridge are due to begin later this year, the project website indicated. “In the end,” the website predicts, “the service life of the iconic Gold Star Bridges will be extended for decades.”