Piece by piece, the construction crane felled by hurricane Dorian on Sept. 7 on South Park Street started coming down over Thanksgiving weekend.
On Monday morning, a work crew using two hydraulic cranes and a team of welders in a suspended cage were able to remove two long pieces of the front jib that dangled from the roof of the apartment building under construction just off Spring Garden Road.
A large crowd gathered to watch from Spring Garden Road and Tower Road as one piece, approximately 35 feet long, was lowered into nearby Victoria Park. A second was brought to rest on South Park Street with one end leaning against the building, and had to be cut in two with an acetelyne torch while Halifax firefighters sprayed the area with water to prevent an accidental blaze from stray sparks.
Later in the afternoon, welders were able to remove the large counterweight that hung precariously over the side of the roof, after several attempts to cut through the bolts that held it in place. Members of the crowd clapped and cheered as the large metal segment resembling a head came free of its neck, while a welder in the suspended cage pumped his fist in triumph.
David Hamilton, the onsite project manager for the province's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, told reporters that work got off to a slow start on Sunday after a catwalk was removed from the crane and difficulties with the welding turned what they thought would be a one-hour job into six hours.
Things went more smoothly on Monday, although the removal of the counterweight, which had been secured in place by anchors and cables following the storm, presented its own challenges.
“The guy who was using the torch was actually cutting blind, so he had to cut the metal while the guys inside the building were trying to guide him,” Hamilton said in his statement to the media. “Of course, he's in a basket 200 feet off the ground, so it was a little tough.
“But we did prevail in the end.”
Harbourside Engineering Consultants and R&D Crane Operator Limited were hired by the province to remove the crane, which will be removed in nine major sections in total.
A localized state of emergency declared on Sept. 18 remains in effect in the city block within the boundaries of South Park Street, and bordered by Brenton Street, Brenton Place and Spring Garden Road. On Friday, residents of 11 additional units at the Trillium condo building were ordered to vacate the building by Sunday morning.
“As this work proceeds, crews are working carefully to keep the crane stabilized and protect themselves, the public and surrounding infrastructure from falling debris,” said Department of Transportation spokeswoman Marla MacInnis. “Safety continues to be the top priority in this project.”
MacInnis was unable to provide a timeline for when the removal work is expected to be completed or when the current evacuation order for the area might be lifted.
She said work crews will continue to work each day, weather permitted, until the crane is removed.
The crane is owned by Lead Structural Form Ltd., while developer Wadih Fares owns the site. The province took on the responsibility for paying for the cleanup costs and it’s not clear if or when the developer or crane owner will have to foot the bill. The province has come under heavy criticism for not providing a cost estimate for removing the crane.
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