This story has been updated.
TARRYTOWN, N.Y. - Flanked by state police officers and officials, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said an inspection into what caused a crane to collapse onto the Tappan Zee Bridge span Tuesday is underway, and that an inspection of the bridge’s structural integrity should take several hours.
Less than two hours after Cuomo's press conference, all three northbound (Rockland-bound lanes) reopened on the bridge at approximately 5:15 p.m.
One southbound (Westchester-bound lane) is expected reopen at 7 p.m. and two more southbound lanes by 8 p.m.
Cuomo addressed the media at about 4 p.m. from Tarrytown after flying by helicopter from Castile near Rochester to the scene, which he pointed out is currently the largest infrastructure project in the U.S.
Around noon, a crane operating a vibratory hammer collapsed, causing the boom of the crane to land across the north- and southbound lanes of the Tappan Zee Bridge. The incident drew significant attention on social media and from regional media outlets.
The crane was one of 28 cranes operating and was holding a 120,000-pound vibratory hammer that is used to drive piles into the mud, a routine task, explained Terry Towle, the president of the Tappan Zee Constructors.
When asked what caused the accident, Towle said it could be attributed to one of three problems.
“Obviously it’s one of three issues, right? It’s a problem with the crane, it's a problem with the hammer or its operator error, and that’s what the investigation will look at.
Only three people were injured in the incident as opposed to the five initially reported: one was a bridge worker who was treated for minor injuries, and two other people were involved in minor car accidents avoiding the crane. The boom of the crane did not land on any cars, Cuomo said.
“If there’s a silver lining in this situation it’s that no one was seriously hurt,” Cuomo said. “If you said to me that a boom could fall across the Tappan Zee Bridge at noon, not hit a car, not hit a person, and there’d be no serious injury, I wouldn’t believe it.”
An inspection of both the crane and bridge will take place; the bridge inspection is expected to take several hours, Cuomo said.
“Even though the deck may look fine, you don’t know what happened or what could‘ve happened underneath to the supporting structure,” Cuomo said, adding that the bridge is quite old and should’ve been replaced decades ago.
Traffic, which is the biggest problem at the moment , has already been diverted and much of it has been removed from the bridge and the approaches by opening barriers that separates the northbound and southbound lanes. Meanwhile the southbound lanes from Exit 15 to the bridge and the northbound lanes of Exit 8 on I-87 are blocked.
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