NEW YORK - The sidewalk shed that blew down in SoHo trapping two people and injuring four more should have been able to withstand winds up to 98 miles per hour according to the Buildings Department. At the Mount Vernon office of Rock Group NY which built the structure, the owner Simranpal Singh said, "I think it's the wind that caused it, so we're looking into it." Rock Group NY has built hundreds and hundreds of sidewalk sheds throughout the city.
This year alone, this small contractor has gotten 600 permits to erect sidewalk sheds in the city. When we pressed him about the high number of permits, Singh said, "We have a team that goes over so it's not all the permits that are open, all the jobs are not up right now, some of the jobs are up."
NYC Buildings Department Spokesman Joseph Soldevere says, "It's not a high number of permits" because the sheds are all the same and therefore, he adds, "easy to build." Soldevere says Rock Group NY has "a good track record."
Michelle Depew, former Buildings Department inspector, says sidewalk sheds are maintained and inspected daily by private contractors who self-certify inspections of nearly 8,000 sheds that protect city sidewalks from falling facade and construction debris. She believes better anchorage of the SoHo shed may have prevented its collapse: "There had to be something that was loose, maybe not tied together, maybe something that wasn't built as per planned."
The sidewalk sheds are as common as taxi cabs. DOB says if you lined all the sheds up in a row they would stretch for 300 miles. In 2016, DOB inspected all of them and found only 20 sheds to have hazardous conditions. DOB inspectors are investigating what caused Sunday's collapse. They're focused on wind, construction of the shed and whether it may have been damaged after it was erected 11 months ago.
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