Florida officials announced plans this week to design and build a bridge to replace one that collapsed and killed six people in Miami more than two years ago.The Department of Transportation said in a statement that it plans to manage and oversee all aspects of the new project, and to the recommendations of federal officials.A National Transportation Safety Board investigation concluded last November that design flaws, as well as a lack of oversight, led to the collapse of the bridge at Florida International University in March of 2018.The design phase will begin next year, and the replacement bridge is expected to be built by 2023.“FDOT has learned valuable lessons since the tragic events surrounding the FIU bridge collapse two years ago. The Department has worked closely with the NTSB and local partners to ensure proactive safety measures are included in the plans for this much-needed bridge,” transportation secretary Kevin J. Thibault said in a statement. “The Department will ensure all safety measures are in place and are followed so we may provide a safe option for pedestrians in this high-traffic area.” The original $14.2 million pedestrian bridge was supposed to open early last year to provide a safe way for students to cross a busy street. However, the structure collapsed on to traffic that was stopped at a red light on March 15, 2018.One of the bridge’s workers died in the collapse, as did five people who were waiting in their cars at the light.The NTSB determined there were “failures at all levels” by the construction firm the university hired, in addition to failed oversight by FDOT.This time around, FDOT says it will coordinate with FIU regarding the bridge’s aesthetics.Local and state officials initially began planning the bridge after a student was struck and killed while crossing the road at SW 109 Avenue in June of 2017.
ART ROONEY II at Bill Nunn Jr.’s gravesite. (Photo by Thomas Sabol)It was a just another day (at least it was for me) on the morning of May 7. I had just concluded prerecording a new radio show that I began hosting, just three weeks prior to Mr. Bill Nunn Jr. making his final departure to join his ancestors.I peeped into the office of Alan Lincoln the former president of the Radio Division of the Sheridan Broadcasting Network one of the pioneers of Black American radio broadcasting and syndication. He now heads the Riverside Sales Group which has formed a partnership with 1550 WZUM in Pittsburgh, the classic oldies station. Alan is also the executive producer of the aforementioned program that I host, “Knights over Egypt.”Anyway, I was about to yell out my usual “see you next week,” but before I could get it out Alan said, “I know you could not have known but Bill Nunn passed away last evening.” At that point my next destination became a blur and seemed a trillion miles away. I cannot for the life of me recall my response but it had to be incomprehensible. The next action that I was truly cognizant of was getting on the elevator in my office building and pushing the button to take me to the 18th floor. My schedule was so hectic on the date that Mr. Nunn passed away, I could not have possibly been privy to the information because I left home too early that morning to get the news and I was far too exhausted to even turn on the television when I arrived back late that night.