After a major overpass bridge along Atlanta’s Interstate 85 caught on fire and collapsed, the Florida Department of Transportation is ordering that all overpass bridges throughout the state that are undergoing construction be inspected for possible flammable substances. The move is a preventative one, aimed at ensuring the future safety of motorists along Florida’s numerous highways as the overpasses undergo construction, updates, and routine maintenance. Looking at the Atlanta disaster as an example of what can happen if all the necessary precautions are not taken care of, the Florida Department of Transportation stated (through its Central Florida District 5 spokesperson, Steve Olson) that numerous factors exist that could potentially weaken the structure of an overpass. Fire is one of the most disastrous as it causes structural compromise that may not even be noticed until the bridge itself collapses.
Florida is no stranger to the headaches caused when a bridge comes down. In 2011, an accident in Beachline sent a full tanker truck sailing off the overpass and onto State Road 3 below. The truck exploded, and the subsequent flames burnt so hit and fiercely that the overpass was melted. It took the Florida Department of Transportation three weeks of continuous work to get the overpass rebuilt, causing major traffic snarls along the highways where cars found themselves rerouted.
In Atlanta, it is believed that the fire began after a man lit a chair under the overpass on fire. The flames from the chair then leapt to nearby cables which were snaked throughout the entire underpass of the bridge. As these cables burned, the integrity of the bridge was drastically compromised, leading it to collapse shortly thereafter.
Engineers from the Florida Department of Transportation’s District Construction are being sent around the state, examining the bridges to ensure that they are, in fact, as safe as they need to be. It is some comfort to remember that Florida has some of America’s safest overpasses, and this additional level of care and examination can only mean that the Florida Department of Transportation wants to keep it that way. This will help prevent any future disasters that could result in interrupted travel plans or worse.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.
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