News

Crews Safely Lower Crane’s 13,000-Pound Load Stuck Above 57th Street

Street Reopens To Pedestrians, Vehicles Between 6th & 7th Avenues

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Officials closed West 57th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues for several hours after a tower crane hoisting a load got stuck Monday morning.

A large, yellow box weighing more than 13,000 pounds was finally lowered to the ground around 3:30 p.m.

The concrete counterweight had been dangling at the end of the crane since about 9:20 a.m. about 40 stories above the street, which had to be closed down.

The street has since been reopened.

The incident happened at One57, the same luxury high-rise where a crane boom collapsed during Superstorm Sandy, leaving the wreckage dangling and blowing in the wind. The 90-story tower across the street from Carnegie Hall is set to be New York City’s largest residential building.

“It’s celebrating its anniversary because almost a year ago it happened, that the first crane fell over,” Hela Barrera told Jones.

“Those cranes are much too high anyway, and I don’t approve of building that high. So you’ve got a double whammy with me,” Midtown resident Melinda Hamilton told CBS 2’s Dick Brennan.

“I’m just shocked again, the same building,” Joseph Ramos told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “If they get more inspectors or fine them heavily for these mishaps, maybe something will change.”

A police spokesman said there was a physical break in the crane, so Con Edison shut off the steam in the street as a precaution. Tenants of nine buildings were urged to stay inside while a crane mechanic was brought in to manually lower the load, which took about three hours.

“Big mess for a small thing,” a Dutch tourist told CBS 2’s John Slattery.

Morgan told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones that some of her co-workers were stranded inside their office building.

“I called them to see if they got out, and they said they couldn’t. So they’re just sitting in there,” she said, adding that she was going home early.

The malfunction happened as New York City was under a tornado watch. The Department of Buildings issued a reminder Monday to secure construction sites due to the forecast.

The NYPD, FDNY, Department of Buildings and Office of Emergency Management all responded to the scene. Gas lines and steam pipes were shut down by Con Edison as a precaution.

Building department records show the crane is owned by Queens-based New York Crane & Equipment Corp. The company is one of the most widely used crane providers in the city, but its equipment has been involved in some notable accidents, including a May 2008 crane collapse that killed two workers on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

The company and its owner, James Lomma, were acquitted of manslaughter and other charges in that collapse; a mechanic pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide.

This January, a rig leased from New York Crane collapsed at a Queens construction site and injured seven workers. The Department of Buildings cited the crane operator, a construction contractor and others, but not New York Crane, in that incident.

The company did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

A spokesman for the local crane operators’ union, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 14, said leaders were thankful no one was hurt and were awaiting more information on what caused the problem.

Cranes have been a source of safety worries in the city since the May 2008 collapse and another, two months earlier, that killed seven people in midtown Manhattan.

Those accidents spurred the resignation of the city buildings commissioner and fueled new safety measures, including hiring more inspectors and expanding training requirements and inspection checklists.

Another crane fell and killed a worker in April 2012 at a construction site for a new subway line. That rig was exempt from most city construction safety rules because it was working for a state-overseen agency that runs the subway system.

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