A broken crane dangling precariously high above Manhattan’s streets could ‘absolutely’ snap off, plunging to the sidewalks below, experts have warned.
The crane, which is helping to build the highest residential skyscraper in New York City at 157 West 57th Street, snapped in Superstorm Sandy’s vicious 95mph winds on Monday afternoon.
The boom now swings from the 90-story luxury high rise over the busy Midtown street, which was cleared as a precaution an hour after the crane first broke.
Yet crane expert Tom Barth, speaking with Piers Morgan on CNNon Tuesday, said the structure could ‘absolutely’ break off and smash into nearby buildings, sparking new fears for homes and businesses nearby.
‘You see that boom hanging down, let’s say the house swings around and the boom gets into the arms that are holding the crane up,’ he explained. ‘If it hits that, there’s a possibility they can break, then the crane’s coming down.’
Barth also lambasted the operator of the crane for failing to follow procedure.
He added: ‘What I believe happened is that the crane operator and the supervision on the job did not follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.
‘When the crane operator gets out of the crane, they let it weather vane. They knew this storm was coming. They should have lowered the boom down at a low angle. That way when the wind comes in, it can blow the crane around, back and forth.’
Terry McGettigan, a tower crane operator in Seattle with 36 years of experience, predicted that the crane could weigh more than 50 tons.
‘It’s not hanging on by much now and it keeps bending back and forth,’ he told ABC. ‘It could finally come down.’
He added: ‘I don’t think the whole crane will go down, but I was surprised the boom stayed on… They got lucky.’
Lend Lease Construction is managing the construction at One57, the $1.5 billion luxury residential tower near Central Park at 57th Street.
Looking on: Onlookers gawp at the dangling crane which is attached to One57 -a $1.5 billion luxury residential tower near Central Park
‘We are working with structural engineers and the DOB [Department of Buildings] on evaluating any additional measures that can be taken to secure the boom and crane structure. Current weather and wind conditions remain very severe,’ Lend Lease said in a statement.
Lend Lease senior vice president Mary Costello added to ABC: ‘NYC emergency personnel remain on site and have cleared all bystanders from the potential impact area should any additional failure take place.’
But it could be some wait yet; Gary Barnett, the president of Extell Development Co., which owns the building, said officials are waiting until winds died down before removing the crane.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg added that ‘the Department of Buildings has determined that the crane is currently stable’, but that winds remained too high at the top of the 1,000-ft building for crews to start dismantling it.
‘The procedure there when the winds die down will be to get the boom and strap it to the building,’ he said at a press conference on Tuesday.
He added that the crane had been inspected on Friday, as other construction cranes had ahead of the storm.
The New York City Buildings Department suspended construction work at 5pm Saturday in anticipation of the storm.