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Crash Gores NYC Bridge Containment

Thursday, March 15, 2012

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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.

$508M Project

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.

 A crane crash tore a 20-foot gash in a longstanding coating containment system underneath the Brooklyn Bridge

 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.

Investigation Underway

The Coast Guard ordered the boat held at Port Newark during the investigation. Authorities interviewed the tugboat captain but released no information.

 The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the US

 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.”


Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Containment; Scaffolding

Comment from Osiris Mosley, (3/16/2012, 5:58 AM)

This was so stupid of the boat operator, a avoidable accident.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (3/16/2012, 8:13 AM)

I've seen photos of similar incidents with concrete highway overpasses - unfortunately there was significant bridge damage in that case.

Comment from Mark Puckett, (3/16/2012, 9:43 AM)

this happens a lot on roadway overpasses especially haulers for construction equipment and roll off loads over 14'

Comment from M. Halliwelll, (3/16/2012, 10:39 AM)

I've seen it a fair bit on the highway too...generally with larger track hoes or backhoes secured with the excavator arm too high and lower bridge spans...but to hit the containment at ~125 ft (being generous on the headroom for the workers) when there is a 90 ft limit....someone screwed up to the tune of 35 ft of crane. Definitely qualifies as an "oops" moment. ;)

Comment from Gary Burke, (3/16/2012, 11:16 AM)

They were very lucky that no contractors were either up there working at the time or killed!

Comment from Fred Wittenberg, (3/16/2012, 8:13 PM)

The containment obviously indicates that a lead abatement project is taking place. Being breached, it's hard to believe that no contamination was released into the air and the East River below.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (3/19/2012, 8:47 AM)

Fred, I see rigid flooring for the containment, but the sidewall doesn't seem to go all the way to the bridge deck. This section may not have the containment completed yet. I've seen riggers work well ahead of any blasting and painting operations. Still, a followup article confirming whether there was a lead release would be good.

Comment from Billy Russell, (3/19/2012, 8:16 PM)

The mesh netting is just there to contain tools and bolts etc,the Decking is being taken down I seem to remember the article saying it was installed 2 years ago,I would Hope it was free of Lead at this stage of the project but I have seen projects that were not it does appear this job is painted and clean.....

Comment from Richard McLaughlin, (3/20/2012, 10:54 AM)

I just visited the contractor doing this work a few weeks ago. They were in the process of taking down one containment and putting up another for the second half of the project. The picture appears to show the new section, but I have not spoken with the folks there to confirm this yet.

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