Jamaica court construction continues des pite crane fall

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The crane, which was hoisting equipment and...

By Courtney Dentch

The state is not expecting the damage from the 170-ton crane that collapsed onto the State Supreme Court in Jamaica last week to delay the renovations being done on the building, a state official said.

The crane, which was hoisting equipment and materials for construction on the nine-story building up to the roof at 88-11 Sutphin Blvd. in Jamaica, fell July 15 after the foundation it was standing on gave way, said Battalion Chief Bill Van Wart of the Fire Department.

Although the collapse was not expected to have an adverse effect on the renovation project, the contractor operating the crane may not emerge from the incident as unscathed as the building. The city is reviewing whether to issue a violation against the Long Island City contractor that was operating the crane without a permit, said a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Buildings.

The crane contractor, G.V. Mechanical Corp., did not have a permit to operate a crane in the area, the spokeswoman said. The city has not issued a violation to the company because there is still a question of what permits the company needed to work on the site, she said.

Although the contractor is state certified, and working on a state project, a city permit is still required for construction work, according to Claudia Hutton, a spokeswoman for the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, which is managing the renovation project.

The contractor was also working with an expired construction permit, and the city DOB had issued a violation and a stop-work order the day the crane collapsed, the agency’s spokeswoman said.

The contractor was unavailable for comment.

The Dormitory Authority closed the construction site for a week after the crane collapsed, but Hutton said that should not delay the project’s completion planned for spring 2004.

“A lot of the time you can make up a day here and a day there,” she said.

The operator of the crane and a court employee were injured when the crane fell, and there was minimal damage to the facade of the building, including a number of broken windows and a broken concrete railing at about the sixth floor.

The crane fell into an empty catch basin when its supporting legs broke through the concrete beneath it, fire officials said. After a number of attempts, city officials were able to remove the crane using a larger 600-ton crane by the night of July 16.

The courthouse, which had been closed while the crane rested upon it, reopened on the afternoon of July 17.

The crane was working on the second phase of renovations on the courthouse aimed at upgrading computer and communications systems. The construction began last year with a budget of $55 million, according to the state Dormitory Authority.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at, or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 138.

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