Southwest Eighth Street may reopen as early as Saturday night or Sunday morning, the Florida Highway Patrol announced Thursday night.
The busy roadway — between Southwest 107th and 117th avenues — was shut down last week after a 950-ton pedestrian bridge being built at the main campus of Florida International University collapsed and killed six people.
On Thursday, workers were still removing final pieces of the bridge debris, scrubbing the asphalt clean and fixing road damage.
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“We ask all motorists to have patience,” said FHP spokesman Joe Sanchez during a telephone town hall meeting in which about 4,000 people participated. “Once [The Department of Transportation] gives the green light, Eighth Street will be opened. Preliminarily, we are looking at Saturday night or Sunday morning.”
Joining Sanchez on the conference call was FIU President Mark Rosenberg, Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez and Sweetwater Police Chief Placido Diaz. During the virtual meeting, city officials took two polls.
They asked callers if they’d support the building of another “bridge, tunnel or any other specialized form of safe crossing.”
The result? City officials said 100 percent of callers said yes.
Callers were also asked if they’d support building a nearby memorial to honor those who died and those who were injured during the bridge collapse. Officials say 88 percent of callers voted yes.
“At the appropriate time, we will be looking for options so that we can ensure the residents that safe passage is available across Tamiami Trail,” Rosenberg said.
“We are fully cooperating with authorities and we are anxious to get to the bottom of this. If [Eighth Street] opens by Monday, we will resume a normal transportation support for residents, at the Fourth Street Commons, 109 Tower and the engineering center.”
During the call, one participant asked the city to specify how officials were cooperating with federal investigators.
“We have not waited for any documents to be requested, but rather provided them immediately,” Lopez said. “We’ve stopped releasing any information [to the public] at their request because it may hinder [the National Transportation Safety Board’s] investigation.”
Until the roads have been reopened, FHP is asking drivers to avoid Southwest Eighth Street between 107th and 117th avenues.