Second Crane Collapse Kills, Consequences for Construction Certain

By on Friday, May 30th, 2008 at 5:19 am

A second construction crane collapsed this morning on the upper East side. At least two are dead, Curb ed and Gothamist have excellent live coverage.

Today’s tragedy follows a crane collapse on March 15, a Saturday afternoon incident that killed 7. The immediate reaction in March by the city of New York was to launch an investigation into inspection practices, leading to the arrest of Edward Marquette who never actually inspected the crane. Neighbors of the project complained of unsafe building practices, and Marquette is accused of falsifying reports– he never bothered to show up for the inspections.

Curbed points out that the crane involved in today’s collapse was also “inspected” after a neighbor’s 311 complaint.

Provisional guidelines created in March after the collapse mandated inspectors be present each time a crane was erected, dismantled, or “jumped.” Those rules were later rescinded even though 2 out of 51 crane operations in the seven week period experienced “serious safety violations.”

At the time of the collapse, Mayor Bloomberg was in the middle of a morning radio program, and said “You know, we have inspectors out. I mean, it’s – construction is dangerous, but this is just unacceptable and intolerable.” (NY1) Well said.

But that’s New York, and we’re on the other side of the river, in Hudson County, in a city where corruption is legendary. Rapid growth alog Jersey City’s waterfront has so far avoided grand catastrophes as the two Manhattan crane accidents. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen here, especially with building inspectors and city engineers prime patronage jobs.

Jersey City’s rampant high rise construction means many streets in the downtown sit in the shadow of high rise cranes. At present, 77 Hudson Street has two, and Aqua in Newport has one. But in the coming weeks, Crystal Pointe will be joining the party as it rises to 36 stories. In addition, 110 First Street and Monaco Towers are expected to begin construction this year. Future projects requiring cranes and likely to proceed in the near future including 3 planned Toll Brothers towers, as well as two 48 story towers, 70 and 90 Columbus. We put together a Google Map estimating distances with G-Map Pedometer to make a best guess of the drop zones for several downtown projects. Good luck.

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