NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Work crews are finalizing preparations for a controlled demolition that will take down twin tower cranes that have been swaying precariously over the ruins of the Hard Rock Hotel construction site since a fatal collapse one week ago.
If all goes to plan, the cross beams of the cranes, which each weigh 145,000 pounds, will collapse where they stand, according to New Orleans Fire Department chief Tim McConnell.
Demolition specialists have spent nearly two days placing charges along the crane towers and making strategic cuts to weaken the structures.
McConnell said the plan has always been to take down the cranes, but when each tower began to sway as a tropical storm formed in the Gulf of Mexico, the controlled demolition became a priority.
Governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency, allowing the city to move forward at full speed.
A private memorial ceremony was held early Friday morning for the families of the workers who remain trapped in building rubble.
The evacuation zone already in place around the collapse site was expanded in preparation for the demolition, which s scheduled for today around noon.
McConnell said the enemy right now is the weather.
“We are working as fast as possible, that conditions will allow, weather conditions, and safely,” he said. “Our goal is to get this done as quick as possible. The engineers are letting us know that they can go 15 minutes after they are finished and it is safe.”