Boom Dangled Precariously Over 57th Street For Days After Storm

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A huge metal crane that was toppled by Superstorm Sandy and left hanging precariously over the road was finally going back up Saturday.

As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported, more than 100 families have been forced out of their apartments for the reinstallation of the crane at the top of the building that will become the One57 luxury condo tower, at 157 W. 57th St.

By 11:25 a.m., the crane was secure in its final place.

As 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported, it took about six hours for construction workers to raise the steel boom from the street to the top of the building and secure it to the cab portion of the crane.

Tourists and local residents looked up as the crane was erected.

On Oct. 29, the day Sandy struck the Tri-State Area, hurricane-force winds sent the boom of the crane dangling hundreds of feet over 57th Street. The road below remained closed as the crane dangled for days afterward.

America's Crane Wreck by Errol Rappaport

The city could not send up any engineers or fire inspectors until winds died down, but inspectors did get to go up and secure the crane four days after the storm.

Now, more than six months later, the boom on the tower crane was set to be replaced Saturday morning by a new 9-ton, 120-foot boom. As the process got underway, more than 100 Midtown families have been forced to evacuate their apartments – yet again.

“Right now, what they’ve told us is that if it’s going to fall, it would possibly fall on 171 West 57th, and that’s where we live,” said Matt Mazer, president of the board of managers at Briarcliffe Condominiums.

But Mazer conceded the residents had no choice

“It’s like one of those disaster movies, and the meteorite may hit earth, and that’s the meteorite, and we’re earth,” he told D’Auria.

Construction experts said cranes such as the one on One57 are made to handle severe weather, engineered in turn along the direction of the heavy winds. But during Sandy, it did not.

“The possibilities could be multiple factors. There are variable conditions — human error, structural failure and weather conditions,” said construction safety expert Peter Amato. “In this case, based on the video that I saw, it appeared that quite evident that the most devastating factor in this crane accident was the wind.”

The winds were estimated to be between 95 and 100 mph the afternoon the boom collapsed.

But the crane atop the One57 Building had a very troubled history even before Sandy. Eight complaints were filed:

eight complaints:

• On Sept. 21, 2012, the safety manager at the site complained to the city Department of Buildings that the crane was leaking oil onto an adjacent building;

• On May 18, 2012, the safety manager said while the crane was moving a panel, a gust of wind rotated it and the panel crashed into a 10th floor window.

• On April 19, 2012, the ball on the end of the crane came loose;

• On March 14, 2012, allegations were of misuse were issued when the crane was lifting beams over the sidewalk.

• On Feb. 27, 2012, unsafe crane conditions were reported;

• On June 15, 2011, there were reports that the crane was not installed properly.

As the new crane was being installed, residents of 57th Street packed up and relocated until they would be able to return home at 8 p.m. Saturday night.

“It’s definitely an inconvenience to come home early from work; to arrange your day around packing for the weekend,” said Briarcliffe resident Lani Crescenzi.

The families were to be reimbursed for any expenses they incurred in the process of relocating. Meanwhile, 57th Street remained closed between Sixth and Seventh avenues.

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