Two injured; many stuck in traffic; bridge damage uncertain
NYS Thruway update regarding re-routed traffic at 5:33p
The northbound lanes on the Tappan Zee Bridge have been reopened to traffic following a crane accident at 12n today.
However, southbound traffic is still being diverted at exits 15 (New Jersey – I-287 – NJ Route 17 South) and 12 (West Nyack – NY Route 303 – Palisades Center Drive).
One southbound lane will reopen at 7 p.m. tonight, and a second southbound lane will reopen at 8 p.m. tonight.
Update from Governor Andrew Cuomo 3:15p press conference (edited and condensed):
We don’t know exactly what caused the malfunction. When the crane collapsed it went across both sides. One worker had minor injuries. Two cars had minor accidents in avoiding the falling crane. Miraculously there were no major injuries whatsoever. We are very fortunate that the situation wasn’t worse.
The crane boom did land directly on the bridge. We’ve made significant progress clearing the boom. We want to do a structural inspection making sure no damage has occurred underneath the bridge. We’re not comfortable reopening the bridge to traffic until then. The structural inspection should be done in several hours.
We know there was some damage on the south side of the bridge – damage so significant that it couldn’t immediately open, let’s say. To the extent there is an issue it’s the traffic and the backup of the traffic, though we have removed most of the traffic from the bridge.
It was a new crane performing a routine task. Sometimes equipment breaks and accidents just happen. We’ll know more after the inspection.
Update from the Clarkstown Police Department (2p ET):
The New York State Thruway Authority has initiated the Tappan Zee Bridge Diversion Plan. This plan was drafted for situations such as the current crane collapse that occurred on the bridge closing all lanes of traffic. All entrance ramps, located in the Town of Clarkstown, allowing traffic to enter the southbound New York State Thruway will be closed down by Clarkstown Patrol Units, prohibiting cars to enter the Thruway. The exits impacted are 11, 12, 13 and 14. We anticipate the bridge to be closed for a few hours. Avoid the Tappan Zee Bridge and surrounding area and expect extensive traffic delays.
Around noon today a crane used for construction of the new NY Bridge collapsed, falling across the middle of the old Tappan Zee Bridge span. Two people thus far have been reported injured. According to LoHud, police reported that “people jumped from the span as a construction crane for the new bridge crashed onto the old span.” No details have been released about what caused the crane collapse.
In addition to tending to the injured, police and officials are working on clearing the traffic pile-up on the bridge and making sure that it did not suffer structural damage. “One of the questions is how much if any structural damage did it cause to the bridge and how do they get the crane lifted,” said Rockland Sheriff’s Chief William Barbera. “There might [be] long term damage and might take hours to open the bridge.”
On the Rockland side of the bridge, cars are being diverted from Interstate 87 onto the Palisades Interstate Parkway and trucks are being routed off the Thruway at Exit 12. On the Westchester side, drivers on Interstate 287 are being diverted onto Interstate 87. The best bet for drivers who need to get across the Hudson River, are the Bear Mountain Bridge to the north and the George Washington Bridge to the south.
Click here to see the 24/7 traffic cameras pointed at the Tappan Zee Bridge. (Update: As of 2p on Tues, the three traffic cameras which directly cover the bridge as well as the NewNYBridge.com website for the new Tappan Zee Bridge are offline.)