An investigation is underway into the Feb. 19 collapse of a crane that was working on the new East End Crossing, part of the Ohio River Bridges project in Louisville, Ky.
The crane, located on a temporary platform adjacent to the Kentucky side of the river, was reportedly removing temporary steel supports from the east end of what will be a 2,500-ft-long, two-tower, cable-stayed bridge when its boom fell against the permanent structure and into the river. No injuries were reported, though the crane operator jumped into the river to escape the falling components, according to Dan Hartlage, a spokesman for WVB East End Partners, developer of the $1.05-billion, 8.5-mile East End Crossing under a public-private partnership with the Indiana Dept. of Transportation.
Initial reports cited windy conditions and a mechanical failure as causes for the collapse. National Weather Service data indicate that the Louisville area experienced sustained winds in excess of 20 mph through much of the day, with multiple gusts above 35 mph.
The crane had no load on its hook when the collapse occurred, Hartlage said on Feb. 22. It will take at least a week before the exact cause of the collapse can be determined and whether any above- or underwater portions of the permanent structure sustained any damage, he added. He was uncertain whether Indiana or federal safety agencies will be involved in the investigation.
“Removal of the crane will begin later this week, depending on weather and river conditions,” Hartlage said. “Construction around the area of the collapse has been halted, but the overall project is proceeding as scheduled.”
Scheduled for completion this fall, the East End Crossing will link state Route 265 in Utica, Ind., with Kentucky 841 in Prospect, Ky., completing the I-265 outer beltway around metropolitan Louisville. WVB East End Partners is a consortium of Chicago-based Walsh Investors LLC, the investment division of the Walsh family, owners of The Walsh Group; VINCI Concessions and Bilfinger Project Investments.