Miami’s Downed Construction Cranes Spark Debate on Safety

In Miami’s central Edgewater district along Biscayne Bay on Wednesday, a collapsed construction crane hung from the top of a high-rise condominium under development, dangling over low-rise apartments below. Residents wondered why it hadn’t been taken down or better secured as Hurricane Irma headed toward the city.
“It’s just hanging there, on this little string,” Mary Leitner, a 33-year-old student who lives near the Gran Paraiso, a project being developed by billionaire Jorge Perez’s Related Group where the crane collapsed. “If they know a storm is coming, take them down.”
Leitner said the crane collapsed during the peak of the storm with a loud boom on Sunday as people who hadn’t heeded an evacuation order screamed below. She said that local residents are hearing it could take weeks before crews can secure the crane.
While Irma ultimately weakened and veered away from a direct assault on Miami, the crane that collapsed in Edgewater was not the only one, and local authorities say the city, which boasts one of the densest skylines in the U.S., needs to study construction regulations to prepare for the next storm. Related saw a second crane come down, at the Auberge project it’s developing in nearby Fort Lauderdale with Moss Construction.
Related spokesman Jorge Mendez said in an emailed response to questions that the crane at Gran Paraiso was damaged due to high winds and that engineers and suppliers had taken measures to secure it.
Plaza Construction, the contractor for the project, will cooperate with all governmental bodies “to investigate and establish repair requirements to put the crane back in a state of good repair,” Plaza Construction President Brad Meltzer said in comments provided by Related, adding that “every effort to safeguard life in the path of Irma was taken, including the mandatory evacuation ordered by government officials.”
‘Be Secured’
Ken Russell, a city commissioner for Miami’s District 2, said the city needs to look at better safety standards — though it can’t simply stop construction for an entire hurricane season.
“As Miami grows, we will have the need for construction,” he said in an interview. “And we’re not going to stop construction for a weather season. We need equipment that can endure that and come down when necessary or be secured when necessary.”
Russell said Irma gave the city an opportunity to learn what its weaknesses are. “It tested a lot of our systems,” he said, “and we saw what can be done better.”
Copyright 2017 Bloomberg.

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