A team of investigators has been dispatched to the site of the new Tappan Zee Bridge in New York, where the boom of a mobile crane crashed on to the decks of the new and existing bridges. No severe injuries were sustained but traffic was snarled for hours.
In a press conference near the site July 19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said a structural inspection team was on the way to to the jobsite to examine the existing bridge deck. “Until that inspection is done, we are not comfortable reopening the bridge,” he said
Noting the structure’s age, he added: “This bridge should have been replaced years ago.”
The crane had supported a 121,000-lb pile-driving vibratory hammer, one of 28 operating at the time that the boom failed. The crane operator and two motorists on the existing bridge sustained minor injuries. “It was noon, so traffic was not that heavy,” Cuomo said. "We’re very fortunate that this situation wasn’t worse.”
Terry Towle, president of Tappan Zee Constructors, the project's prime contractor, said that the crane was new and the manufacturer’s representative was on site. The investigation will focus on possible crane malfunction, operator error and the vibratory hammer.
Wind did not play a role, Towle said.
Cuomo said he didn’t believe the collapse will affect the new bridge construction schedule. “If anything, it’s a question on reopening of the old bridge,” he said.
Noting that the pile-driving operation is quite common and has been done “thousands of times” on the project, Cuomo added: “When you do something this big…things will happen.”
Until the crane accident, the worst mishaps generated by the project had involved boating accidents that killed five people. The most recent occurred in March, when the three-person crew of a tugboat drowned when their vessel struck one of the construction barges.
Tappan Zee Constructors, a consortium consisting of Fluor, American Bridge, Traylor Bros. and Granite Construction Co., is a defendant in a lawsuit related to that accident.
The boating accidents involving construction barges had nothing to do with the construction, Cuomo stated, and the construction work “has been going extraordinarily well.”