The New York City Department of Transportation is investigating the death of a painter who was fatally crushed while working on the Williamsburg Bridge.
Jerry Burgess, 50, of New Haven, CT, was on a mechanical lift with a partner under the Brooklyn side of the span preparing the bridge for painting when the platform became stuck about 3:30 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 9), a DOT spokesman said.
Burgess' partner stepped off the lift and onto the bridge’s steel supports as the two men tried to reactivate the mechanical platform, officials said.
Officials are still investigating what happened next. Somehow, the platform suddenly moved, pinning Burgess between the lift and the span’s steel supports, the spokesman said.
Burgess, who was married with children, died at Bellevue Hospital about 30 minutes later.
Skanska Koch, Project Details
Burgess worked for Skanska Koch, which was under contract to DOT to paint and repair the bridge.
A spokeswoman for Skanska referred all questions to DOT’s spokesman, who said no other information would be available while the investigation was underway.
The Williamsburg Bridge is one of the major crossings of the East River, carrying approximately 140,000 motorists, 92,000 subway/bus riders, 600 bikers and 500 pedestrians between the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn and serving some of the busiest arteries in New York City.
When it opened in 1903, the Williamsburg Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world, with a span of 1600 feet and a total length of 7308 feet and the first with all-steel towers.
The current work on the bridge is apparently part of the “Contract #8” work began March 3, 2003. The project was scheduled to finish on May 31, 2010, but NYC DOT was still providing project updates on its site well into August and no later projects were noted.
The $173 million project includes rehabilitation of the tower bearings, the truss system, the steel structure of all eight towers, and the north comfort station houses, the replacement or adjustment of the cable suspenders, the installation of maintenance travelers (inspection platforms) under the main span, as well as painting of the stiffening trusses.