What to Know
- Leon County state court Judge Kevin Carroll ruled Tuesday that the documents are public records under Florida law and cannot be withheld.
- FDOT had argued that the documents couldn't be made public due to an ongoing federal investigation into the March 15 collapse.
A judge has ruled that the Florida Department of Transportation must release public records that might shed light on a bridge collapse in Miami that killed six motorists.
Leon County state court Judge Kevin Carroll ruled Tuesday that the documents are public records under Florida law and cannot be withheld. The state agency had argued that the documents couldn't be made public due to an ongoing federal investigation into the March 15 collapse of the Florida International University bridge.
The Miami Herald sued the department of transportation after the agency refused to release the documents, citing orders from the National Transportation Safety Board. Both agencies say the NTSB told the state agency not to release records dating from Feb. 19.
The state agency says it will review the judge's order. A NTSB report released earlier this month showed large cracks in the bridge just one to two days before it collapsed.
The cracks — reaching as far as four to six inches into the concrete — appeared on the 174-foot bridge after it was set into place on permanent bridge piers across Southwest 8th Street on March 10.
The pictures, dated March 13 and 14, show large cracks on the north end of the bridge exactly where the failure occurred. Previous photos provided by the NTSB showed smaller cracks in the bridge before it had been lifted into place.
But the cracks revealed in the latest NTSB investigative update are much larger. After the March 13 photos were taken, the project's chief engineer called the state to report the cracks, saying repairs would be needed but that safety didn’t appear to be a concern.
So no one — not the engineer, the construction company, FIU or the state Department of Transportation — ordered the road be closed or the bridge shored up before repairs were conducted.
The bridge suddenly collapsed on March 15 as a work crew was carrying out the engineer's orders to re-tighten rods that ran through a diagonal concrete truss — the same area that was cracking in the newly released photos.