A crane cable managed to snag on the teeth off the west edge of the Kennedy Boulevard drawbridge across from campus Tuesday morning, the way a belt loop manages to catch just perfectly onto a door knob and snaps you backwards.
This accident occurred during a seemingly typical crane transport across the Hillsborough River, causing area roads to shut down while city officials attempted to unhook the cable from around the bridge edge which kept it dangling off the side. No injuries were reported, but complications arose when the equipment pulled off the barge transporting it and into the water, leaving the crane hanging off the teeth of the bridge until an even larger crane could be brought in to assist in its removal.
“Unfortunately, it was determined that the crane located at the Riverwalk staging area (former Trump site) could not safely stabilize or lift the drill rig which had partially fallen into the Hillsborough River,” said Ali Glisson, Public Affairs Director for the City of Tampa in a statement. “Orion Marine will bring in an alternate 225 ton crane which is capable of stabilizing and lifting the drill rig.”
Students gathered around campus as helicopters flew over UT and police blocked off sections of Kennedy Boulevard outside Plant Hall. Crowds of locals also stood in Curtis Hixon Park, looking on as the downtown area was completely redirected to keep the bridge area secure.
Traffic was heavily congested through the connecting area, causing many bystanders to reconsider their route home. Some experienced commuting problems early during the morning rush hour close after the incident occurred.
“I came down on Twiggs and it was just barely moving. No one knew what was going on and it wasn’t until I got closer to Kennedy that I saw this bridge up, and realized ‘Oh, the bridge is up, no wonder we are not moving,’” said Jenna Nelson, head of human resources at Sykes Enterprises.
Nature may make the process more difficult, as the crane is due to stay half-submerged in the river overnight. Tide times will be crucial in keeping the crane in place so it cannot cause more damage to the street.
“Tidal flows through the Hillsborough River will be incredibly important as the process to stabilize and then remove the crane at the bridge moves forward. Low tide [Tuesday] will be at 6:11 p.m. with high tide coming back in around 11:54 p.m,” said Glisson.
At the time of publication, Tampa officials did not anticipate the bridge reopening until late Wednesday, when the crane can be removed and the bridge inspected for needed repairs. The street will have to be shut down until they are able to determine the damage to the bridge, which was originally constructed in 1890 and last renovated 20 years ago.
“I haven’t been over there, but they are trying to repair the hinges that are attached to the concrete. That’s what they are trying to do right now,” said a Tampa Police Department official on the scene.
While the city is working towards a solution, traffic will be diverted through Jackson Street and Cass Street in order to access Kennedy Boulevard. While locals didn’t have much in the way of answers in the afternoon after the accident, many were positive that the damage was not a quick fix.
“I don’t think this is going to be repaired before [Wednesday] because I think once it gets dark, I think it is going to be hard to do it safely. I think we have at least another day, maybe two,” said Nelson. “I’m rethinking my route tomorrow.”
Doha Madani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org