Inspectors On Scene As Clean Up Continues After Billboard Collapse On BQE


bqe-collapseBrooklyn, NY – Crews are back in Greenpoint, Brooklyn cleaning up the mess left behind from a 40 to 50 ton billboard that came crashing down on Friday as inspectors and engineers try determine exactly what caused the billboard to collapse.

The buildings department is examining the billboard, looking at the bolts that held it in place.

The billboard advertising Mega Millions slammed into a concrete barrier of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway Friday afternoon. Pieces then broke off onto the service road below.

Officials say the bolts appeared to be ripped and torn from the structure, but it’s unclear if that was caused by the collapse or from something else.

The FDNY says that Friday’s strong winds, which at times reached up to 50 miles per hour, were a contributing factor in the collapse.

Officials are also looking at whether the billboard was illegally placed too close to the road.

In addition, inspectors are looking at three nearby buildings that sustained some damage when the billboard fell and Department of Transportation officials are examining the condition of the road.

The right lane of the westbound BQE is still closed as well as the entrance ramp off McGuiness Boulevard and officials say the investigation will likely last most of the day.

Ingrid Wheatley lives near the scene and has a good view of the damage from her window and her rooftop.

“What it made me think about it is it could have fallen on this side as well,” said Wheatley. “Like it could have fallen either way and that’s kind of scary.”

Workers in a nearby auto repair shop could hear the sign swaying in the wind all day, but then they heard the sound of metal bolts giving way.

Debris blocked two lanes of the westbound BQE, causing gridlock for miles

By nightfall Friday, a heavy-duty crane was brought in to help separate the metal into smaller parts.

“We’ve got to get the wood and vinyl out of the way before we can start burning,” said Jim Ramsburgh with Empire Erectors. “Once we get the wood and vinyl out of the way, then we’ll cut it apart.”

While that was the worst of the damage, the winds caused plenty of damage across the region with gusts hitting 48 miles per hour at JFK and 52 miles per hour at Newark.

It’s part of the same weather pattern that dumped a blizzard on Buffalo and left much of the midwest blanketed in snow.

{CBS Local/ Newscenter}