TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — Governor Andrew Cuomo says the Tappan Zee Bridge will remain closed for “at least” a few hours while inspectors check the bridge for structural damage after a crane collapsed Tuesday afternoon.
Five people were hospitalized in unknown condition when a crane collapsed at 12:02 p.m., according to Rockland County emergency services.
Two of those injured include a crane operator and a construction worker, and one patient is believed to have required oxygen when the ambulance transporting him or her became stuck in traffic, the emergency services official said.
“Miraculously there were no serious injuries,” said Cuomo.
Television helicopter images showed emergency crews pulling out at least one person from a car. Drivers were milling about on the span, just steps from the collapsed crane.
The crane did not fall on any vehicles, reported PIX11.
Governor Cuomo said two cars got into a minor crash to avoid hitting the crane.
For safety purposes, Governor Cuomo said the bridge will remain closed until a complete structural inspection is finished. Once the inspection is finished, traffic will be allowed on the bridge.
“I’d rather err on the side of caution,” said Cuomo. “From the surface it looks like only one lane was damaged.”
The crane collapsed on the bridge’s Rockland County side, but caused traffic to be blocked for miles in every direction.
South Nyack-Grand View police Chief Brent Newbury told LoHud.com that he expects a “traffic nightmare.”
The New York State Thruway Authority has initiated the “Tappan Zee Bridge Diversion Plan,” prompting all entrance ramps normally allowing traffic to enter the southbound side to be closed.
Exits 11, 12, 13 and 14 are impacted.
Drivers are urged to use alternate routes including the George Washington Bridge, Bear Mountain Bridge and the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge.
No boats are allowed in the immediate vicinity of the collapsed crane, the Coast Guard said. Boats in the area should proceed slowly and be careful to avoid any debris in the water. A Coast Guard team is on scene to check for any possible pollution and damage to barges as a result of the collapse.
A new Tappan Zee Bridge is under construction beside the old one, which dates to the 1950s and will be demolished once the new bridge is completed. The original bridge is a notorious traffic chokehold, and also has long been a source of concern among some engineers about its viability.
An investigation is underway into why the crane collapsed. Wind does not appear to be a factor, according to Cuomo.