Thursday, June 23, 2011

Drill accident at Atlantic Yards site damages eight cars, injures a few people; contractor must submit safe work plan; problems with drill not new

The Brooklyn Paper had a scoop today, Accident injures two and damages cars at Atlantic Yards:
A drill accident at the eastern end of the biggest construction project in Brooklyn’s history sent egg-sized chunks of packed dirt and small stones raining down on unsuspecting pedestrians and commuters at the corner of Vanderbilt and Atlantic avenues on June 21 — leaving two injuries and more than seven damaged cars.
Witnesses said they heard an explosion at around 10:30 am as a hydraulic drill malfunctioned, sending dirt and rocks flying into the air.
ESDC comment

Empire State Development Corporation spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell offered more detail:
Yesterday morning a drill rig became clogged that was working inside the construction fence at Vanderbilt & Atlantic Avenues. When attempting to unclog the casing spoil jam, built up pressure caused debris to spew into the street. Eight vehicles incurred minor damage, mostly on their wind shield, roof, hood, and trunk. Three people claimed to have been directly hit by debris. Emergency services were called immediately. One man was not visibly injured, but was transported to the hospital.

The construction manager ordered the contractor to stop work, and the contractor was directed to submit a safe work plan for approval prior to being allowed to proceed with drilling. This safe work plan includes both an improved physical barrier in the form of a heavy hoist-able screen with a support crane, and by preparatory action by contractor personnel, such as clearing the sidewalk and curb lane, in the event of another casing spoil jam requiring the use of compressed air.
Previous concerns

On Atlantic Yards Watch, Peter Krashes pointed out that community concerns were not new:
The drill in question is of the same type and doing the same type of work reported to be spewing dust several months ago on this website.  These types of drills at the site have been the source of community complaints for some time, particularly for the dust and noise they cause.  A video in our report from April 6th shows a malfunctioning Casagrande drill spewing dust one block west from the most recent incident.

The AY Construction Alert from June 20th to July 31st describes the work as taking place to install a line of 17 drilled piles located in what used to be the BP gas station at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues.  The work taking place is over a tunnel leading into the LIRR railyard at the easternmost part of the project.  The work is anticipated to take place for two months.
Impact on traffic

Krashes notes how traffic has been shifted:
For approximately three weeks a travel lane and sidewalk on Vanderbilt have been closed, and a bicycle lane moved, to accommodate the affects of the drill that caused the accident.  Workers have been observed sweeping the lane and sidewalk over the last week.  The photo to the left was taken June 8th.  The two cones to the right in the photo delineate the temporary path of the bicycle lane.
The effort to shift cars, bicycles and pedestrians out of harm's way by moving the lanes on Vanderbilt may be part of what is referred to as the MPT or Maintenance and Protection of Traffic Plan for the project which is particularly important during the construction period.  Although lane closures for construction work are generally detailed to the public in the AY Construction Alerts or related supplements, this writer can find no details of these particular changes outlined in the documents.
And, he notes, "dust, mud and debris had flowed through the fence onto the sidewalk and Vanderbilt Avenue previously." For more, including photos, go to Atlantic Yards Watch.

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