At least 1,000 displaced Midtown residents face an uncertain timeline for returning to their homes after a crane partially collapsed Monday and crumbled a portion of a high-rise apartment under construction.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and other city leaders said Tuesday that West Peachtree and Spring streets, which serve as two of the city’s main commuting thoroughfares with direct links to the interstates, will remain closed until the crane can be secured high above street level.
Balfour Beatty, the general contractor at the site of the accident, said the crane has now been stabilized after the mechanical failure and that teams are in the process of developing a plan to dismantle it.
City officials could not say when the work might be completed, but two years ago, and a block away, it took engineers and workers 10 days to reopen West Peachtree Street when another crane malfunctioned.
Tuesday’s announcement was made during a news conference held at Atlanta Fire Station 15 located on 10th Street, where Dickens was joined by fire Chief Rod Smith and police Chief Darin Schierbaum. Smith said fire crews have worked with engineers and construction crews and will remain in a “defensive posture” until the crane is dismantled.
Four construction site employees working on the building in the 1000 block of West Peachtree were injured Monday afternoon when the crane malfunctioned just after 2 p.m. A counterweight on the crane became dislodged, Smith said, and one of the four structures that attached it to the building fell away.
“Everyone was able to get evacuated out,” Dickens said of the surrounding city block. “Those four individuals did not sustain life-threatening injuries. This could have been a whole lot worse.”
The four workers were all treated and released from the hospital Monday night, a spokesperson for Balfour Beatty said.
A secondary crane has been installed to dismantle the first. Police have closed portions of both West Peachtree and Spring streets between 10th and 11th streets, as well as one block of 12th Street.
“This is an elevated situation that we find ourselves in, mitigating as a city,” Schierbaum said. “Those closures will remain in place for as long as necessary to ensure that vehicles are routed away ... and that citizens that may be walking in the neighborhood take alternate routes.”
Credit: Midtown Blue
Credit: Midtown Blue
Most of the Midtown residents evacuated live in the Tens on West luxury apartment complex next door to the construction site.
“Due to a crane collapse at a construction site adjacent to Tens on West, the property remains under an evacuation order by the Atlanta Fire Department as a precautionary measure,” a note on the property’s website said. “Room blocks are currently available at Homewood Suites by Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn. The Central Park Recreation Center is also providing shelter to those who need it.”
Added Balfour Beatty, “The site and surrounding area remain closed until crane dismantling operations are complete, and we are partnering with property management to provide displaced residents with temporary accommodations.”
The incident is nearly identical to the malfunction of a crane at a nearby construction site in February 2021. That situation took nearly two weeks to resolve.
“I want to acknowledge that the residents of this neighborhood have been through a lot recently,” Dickens said Tuesday. “This incident took place just a block away from the horrific shooting at the medical office earlier this month, so I want to thank you, all those who live and work here in Midtown, for your patience.”
According to Smith, Georgia’s Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the agency that will investigate the crane failure. OSHA representatives have not responded to questions about the incident, but the Balfour Beatty spokesperson said the company is working closely with the agency in its investigation. The cause of the crane failure remains undetermined, the spokesperson said.
Dickens said state and city agencies would also conduct a thorough investigation.
“Atlanta has been under construction for quite a while. There’s a lot of cranes in the city,” Dickens said. “We see it in our city planning department with the amount of permits that are going up.”
To keep up with the increase in permit requests and construction, Dickens said the city is investing in the fire department through infrastructure bonds so that firefighters would have the right equipment to investigate and stabilize building emergencies like the one Monday.
— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.
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