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Work Site Barges Involved in Fatal Crash

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

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The construction zone of the new Tappan Zee Bridge was the site of a fatal tugboat accident earlier this week, but construction crews on the scene were unharmed.

The 90-foot tugboat Specialist was hauling construction equipment downriver Saturday (March 12) when it collided with construction barges moored at the Tappan Zee Bridge site and sank, Reuters reported Sunday (March 13).

As of Sunday, the bodies of two of the three crewmembers on board had been recovered from the waters. Timothy Conklin, 29, of Westbury, NY, was located Sunday; Paul Amon, 62, of Bayview, NJ, was the first to be found Saturday.

The third crewmember remains unrecovered, although reports late Monday night (March 14) indicated the body of Harry Hernandez, 56, of Staten Island, had been located in a section of the boat divers are unable to access due to severe damage, the local CBS station reported

Reports indicate that the tug is wedged beneath the construction barge, so a commercial maritime salvage team was to be contacted to aid in recovering the body, CBS added.

Collision, Fuel Spill

According to a statement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, the event occurred early Saturday morning when three tugboats were transporting a barge of construction equipment southbound on the Hudson River.

Rather than traveling down the middle of a 600-foot-wide U.S. Coast Guard-designated channel, the barge and its accompanying tugs passed too close to a construction barge stationed next to Pier 31, where work on the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement is underway.

One of those tugs, Specialist, struck the Tappan Zee barge and sank; the other two tugboats remained unharmed.

Tappan Zee Constructors, the builders of the bridge replacement, had a crew of 13 workers on their barge at the time; none were injured when the tugboat struck.

After striking the barge, the tugboat began leaking up to 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel, creating a fuel slick approximately 100 yards wide and 5 miles long.

Local authorities deployed a fuel-containing apparatus to the water when a visible sheen appeared. Westchester County also initiated a cleanup agreement with a private party, Miller Environmental Group, to manage the diesel spill.

Personnel from the State Department of Environment Conservation's Oil Spill Team are on the scene to monitor and support the cleanup with two DEC vessels as well.

Bridge Progress Moves Forward

Just days before the accident, News 12 Westchester reported on the visible progress being made on the Tappan Zee bridge replacement, as unseasonably warm temperatures allowed work to proceed without weather-related interruption.

In a March 11 progress update on the New New York Bridge website, Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) reported on the four-hour installation of the fourth and final concrete crossbeam on the main span.

The precast beams will support the future road deck in addition to reinforcing the outward-angled towers as they grow to their ultimate 419-foot height, the site explained.

The operation was carried out with meticulous precision by TZC’s synchronized team of crane operators, ironworkers, engineers, electricians, mechanics and survey crews, as well as the I Lift NY super crane, the only crane on the project capable of raising the 750-ton crossbeam, the site explained.

Already the towers are higher than the existing bridge’s roadway, the local news site noted.

On the Westchester side of the future span, the site added, crews have begun to remove the temporary support structures that aided in the installation of girders over the Metro-North Railroad tracks, which will allow for the installation of road deck panels in the near future.

During the coming weeks, TZC will finalize the connections to the towers by tying steel reinforcements, installing temporary formwork and pouring concrete, the bridge site explained.

Once the concrete cures, TZC will remove the formwork, revealing the completed connections.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Health & Safety; Infrastructure; North America; Transportation

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