Miami-Dade County

Here’s the problem: How to remove a bus lodged into a building without it collapsing

Miami-Dade bus crashes into building in Little Haiti

Miami-Dade Transit Metrobus crashed into a clothing store in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood damaging the structural integrity of the building. Miami Fire Rescue secured the damage columns prior to removing the bus on Sunday, September 16, 2018.
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Miami-Dade Transit Metrobus crashed into a clothing store in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood damaging the structural integrity of the building. Miami Fire Rescue secured the damage columns prior to removing the bus on Sunday, September 16, 2018.

Update: As of 11 a.m. on Tuesday, the City of Miami Police Department said that all of the parties involved are expected to be OK with no life-threatening injuries reported. There is still a road block on the right lane of Northwest 54th Street going southbound. The bus is still in the building. City inspectors and engineers are at the scene trying to find the best way to remove the bus that has been lodged for its third day. There is still no confirmation on when the bus will be removed.

For Arsene Omega, seeing his longtime clothing store come close to collapsing after a county bus crashed into it on Sunday, was gut-wrenching.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,’’ said Omega, whose store, Omega Fashions, 5401 NW Second Ave., has been in business for nearly 40 years.

Omega, who has owned the 92-year-old building for 30 years, according to county property records, says he doesn’t know whether he can rebuild after the crash. He says the store employs four people and is open every day.

The crash happened around 9 a.m. Sunday when the bus, heading north on Second Avenue, rammed into a Ford Ranger pickup truck at the intersection of Northwest 54th Street and Second Avenue.The crash sent the bus into Omega Fashions, located on the first floor of the 7,545-square foot building, built in 1926.

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Two people in the pickup truck were transported to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Another eight people from the bus, including the driver, were taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Northwest 54th Street, a major artery, is blocked between Second and Third avenues; the roads will remain blocked until the bus is removed, Miami officials said.

Police have not yet released any information on the accident.

Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll said Monday they are looking for a way to remove the bus, which crashed into two support columns, without losing the building.

On Sunday, Fire Rescue erected a wooden makeshift column to help support the building. City of Miami officials, including from the building department, went to the scene Monday, trying to determine the best course of action.

“The only thing that we’re waiting for is the county to have a contractor and engineer do a site inspection,’’ said Miami spokeswoman Stephanie Severino. “They want to save the integrity of the building. Once you remove that bus, you will either have a partial collapse or the building will collapse entirely.”

While the city and county figure out what to do, business owners are concerned about their lost revenue.

The owner of Miami Food Depot, which sits across the street from Omega, said business has dropped 290 percent since the crash.

“No one told me how they are going to fix it or when the roads will be open,” said Alex Polanco, the Food Depot owner.

Chef Creole, a Haitian restaurant on Northwest 54th Street, was quite busy Monday, but not for food. Onlookers congregated at the open-air restaurant, watching police and media at the scene.

Miami-Dade buses traveling on Route 2 are detouring along Northwest Third Avenue, skipping bus stops on Northwest 54th and 52nd streets. The detour will cause an approximately two-minute delay.

“There’s always a road blockage around here,” says Jermaine Black, a resident of Little Haiti.

Severino, the Miami spokeswoman, said the bus will likely be removed on Tuesday, but it may take some additional shoring up of the building. The concrete, she added, was not reinforced by steel rebar.

“They’re trying to do all they can to not have that building collapse,’’ she said.

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