MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A big step in the completion of Florida International University's massive new pedestrian bridge came on Saturday.
A 174-foot section of the FIU-Sweetwater 'UniversityCity' Bridge was lifted from its supports and swung across Southwest 8th Street.
It was then lowered into its final position, just west of 109th Avenue.
FIU students, faculty and staff joined Sweetwater residents and the bridge builders to watch the bridge move and create a safer pedestrian route to connect the campus community to its neighbors.
"FIU is about building bridges and student safety. This project accomplishes our mission beautifully," said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. "We are filled with pride and satisfaction at seeing this engineering feat come to life and connect our campus to the surrounding community where thousands of our students live."
Using an innovative approach to bridge construction, the main span, which weighs 950 tons, was built next to Southwest 8th Street.
This technique reduced potential risks to workers, commuters and pedestrians and prevented traffic tie-ups in the area.
The move was the largest pedestrian bridge move via Self-Propelled Modular Transportation, in U.S. history.
"FIU has come a long way since the TIGER grant that funded this pedestrian bridge was awarded in 2013. This project represents a true collaboration among so many different partners at local, state, and federal levels, and in both the public and private sectors," said Mario Diaz-Balart, U.S. Representative and Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. "The university's growth and acceleration is no longer just about the campus and its student body; it's about the future of Sweetwater, Miami-Dade County and the entire South Florida region. I believe this is what creative solutions to transportation challenges look like, and I will continue to support and incentivize these new ideas."
Funding for the $14.2 million bridge, connecting plazas and walkways is part of a $19.4 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Other funding agencies include the Federal Highway Administration, Florida Department of Transportation Local Agency Program, FIU and the City of Sweetwater.
"The FIU-Sweetwater bridge will serve many purposes including being a visually distinctive gateway to our city," said City of Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez. "This bridge is symbolic of the growth our city is experiencing and our partnership with FIU."
The moving of the bridge began at 5 a.m. and took approximately five hours.
The project includes the bridge, sidewalks and a plaza. Construction began in the spring of 2017 and is expected to be completed in early 2019.
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