A large crane being used to construct the new Tappan Zee Bridge in New York collapsed Tuesday, blocking all lanes on the span it is replacing, closing the traffic artery indefinitely and injuring five people.
Digital traffic signs as far back as Interstate 95 in New Jersey advised drivers of the closure, and the George Washington Bridge, Cross Bronx Expressway and other spans were jammed ahead of the evening commute. Rockland County officials said a traffic diversion plan had been implemented and no vehicles were being allowed southbound on the Thruway starting at exit 12.
A New York State Police spokesman said that the crane, being used in the construction of a new bridge, toppled near mile marker 15 just after noon.
The towering red boom fell over on a barge before crashing across all lanes of the current span. State police said that at least one car was hit by debris sparking a small wreck. Three drivers were hurt, along with two workers, though none of the injuries were believed to be serious.
Authorities said that the span will be closed indefinitely as crews work to clean up the wreckage. Barricades on either side were lifted so drivers could do U-turns and travel to the nearest exits.
The Tappan Zee Bridge crosses the Hudson River at one of its widest points and connects South Nyack and Tarrytown about 25 miles north of midtown Manhattan. The crossing carries about 138,000 vehicles per day and is vital to the trucking industry.
The new Tappan Zee Bridge has been under construction for three years and is expected to be complete by 2018 at an expected cost of $3.9 billion. It is being built alongside the original, seven-lane Tappan Zee span, which dates to 1955.