The Coast Guard is investigating a crane crash that tore a 20-foot gash Tuesday night in a longstanding coating containment system underneath the Brooklyn Bridge.
The crane was on a barge being towed along the East River by the tugboat Thomas Dann when it struck the bridge, Coast Guard spokesman Thomas McKenzie said. The crane tore into the canvas-and-sheet-metal structure at midspan about 8 p.m., authorities said.
The containment structure was installed about two years ago for the bridge's $508 million painting and renovation project, said New York City Department of Transportation spokesman Seth Solomonow.
dnainfo / Thomas Parisienne
|The Coast Guard wants to know why the crane was extended so high while it was being transported, reports said.|
“The top of the crane scraped a containment unit under the bridge,” Solomonow said.
The crash left sheet metal dangling from the wrecked scaffolding.
Authorities said the bridge did not appear to be damaged, but several lanes of traffic were closed for about three hours as emergency crews performed inspections on the busy span, which connects Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Authorities said no materials were released from the containment into the river.
The Coast Guard ordered the boat held at Port Newark during the investigation. Authorities interviewed the tugboat captain but released no information.
Postdlf / Wikimedia Commons
|The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the U.S.|
News reports said the military was trying to determine the boat’s origin and destination and why the crane was extended high enough to hit the structure. Clearance at midspan is 135 feet.
Authorities have restricted boats that are more than 90 feet tall from passing beneath the damaged part of the bridge. The historic landmark, completed in 1883, is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States.
‘A Big Hole’
One witness said the boat continued to float down the river after the crash. “I was at the Brooklyn Bridge Park when I heard some thudding sounds and people started screaming in the distance,” said Sade Powell, 18, of East New York.
“Everyone in the park just jumped,” Powell, a college student, told the New York Daily News. “It sounded like something serious.”
Bobbie Lilly, 57, told the newspaper that “heard the loud scraping noise, and there was a crane on a long boat hitting the bridge,” she said. “Oh my goodness, there was a big hole.”