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Stuck crane dangles 13,000-pound load above busy NYC street

A load is suspended above the street in New York, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 after a tower crane hoisting a load apparently got stuck about 20 floors up. Officials have closed West 57th Street between 6th and 7th avenues in Manhattan.
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

NEW YORK A 13,000-pound concrete weight that was dangling 40 floors above the street from a suspended crane in Manhattan has been lowered to the ground.

The heavy cube made it to the ground around 3:30 p.m. on Monday. It took hours for construction workers to lower it inch by inch on a rainy and windy afternoon.

The load dangled near a luxury high-rise going up near Carnegie Hall - the same construction site where a crane's boom collapsed and dangled dangerously during Superstorm Sandy.

This time, the crane is merely frozen with its load suspended in midair, but the threat of bad weather that could send it spiraling has officials worried. City engineers are working with the contractor to secure the site, said buildings department spokesman Tony Sclafani.

The malfunction was causing additional concern because New York City was under a tornado watch.

City emergency managers said the load would be lowered manually, which could take hours.

The crane lost power around 7 a.m. while it was moving construction materials to the roof, said Mike Lucas, a construction field supervisor. The generator that powers the hoist mechanism stopped working.

"With no power from this generator, it wasn't going to fall - and it wasn't going to go up, either," he said.

The closure of 57th Street, a major east-west thoroughfare, created gridlock in parts of Manhattan.

Construction cranes have been a source of safety worries in the city since two giant rigs collapsed within two months of each other in Manhattan in 2008, killing a total of nine people.

Those accidents spurred the resignation of the city buildings commissioner and fueled new safety measures, including hiring more inspectors and expanding training requirements and inspection checklists.

Another crane fell and killed a worker this April at a construction site for a new subway line. That rig was exempt from most city construction safety rules because it was working for a state-overseen agency that runs the subway system.

The high-rise where the crane is stalled was dubbed a "global billionaires' club" by The New York Times after nine full-floor apartments near the top were sold to billionaires. Two duplexes in the building, called One57, were being sold for more than $90 million each.