1 lane on Tappan Zee Bridge still closed after crane collapses

TARRYTOWN, New York (WABC) -- Most of the lanes of the Tappan Zee Bridge have reopened after a crane collapsed across the entire width of the bridge, but transportation officials still advised motorists to plan for extra delays.

Traffic was backed up to at least exit 13 on the southbound side of the New York Thruway around 7 a.m. Wednesday.

John del Giorno in NewsCopter 7 was above the Tappan Zee span:

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John del Giorno reporting live from NewsCopter 7

A crane boom from an adjacent bridge project crashed down across the key Hudson River crossing Tuesday, halting traffic for hours.

One lane remains closed on the Westchester County-bound side, as four lanes of traffic merge into three. There were lengthy backups for Westchester-bound drivers Wednesday morning.

"The merge to the bridge was bad because it was backed up all the way onto 287 to New Jersey, but once we got on the bridge past the accident, it was clear sailing," said motorist Gary Garran.

There is no timetable for when the lane will be reopened.

Detours at exits 15 and 12 were no longer in effect Wednesday.

The crane was one of 28 being used to build the new Tappan Zee Bridge. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it was not immediately known yet what caused the crane to malfunction and collapse.

The state Department of Transportation and OSHA are investigating the cause of the accident. Weather has been ruled out as a factor.

Officials said two women and a man suffered minor injuries in that accident. One Tappan Zee Bridge worker also suffered minor injuries, authorities said. The crane operator was also being checked out, but seemed to be fine.

Eyewitnesses said the crane started falling slowly, and then literally crashed down onto the highway.

Nicholas D'Emealio, 21, of Irvington, New York, was in a vehicle about three football fields away from the crane, toward the center of the bridge, when he heard a bang and his driver slammed on the brakes.

"It shook the whole bridge," he said. "At first I thought the bridge was collapsing because this is not a good bridge."

He and his friends got out of their vehicle and threw around a football to pass the time.

The process of getting vehicles off the bridge was underway by 1 p.m., but hundreds remained stuck on the highway for hours.

The new Tappan Zee Bridge has been under construction for three years and is expected to be completed by 2018 at a cost of $3.9 billion. It is being built alongside the original Tappan Zee span, which dates to 1955.

In March, a 90-foot tugboat sank after it hit a construction barge near the bridge site, killing three crew members.

Some information from The Associated Press
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