A three-alarm fire in a construction area under the Throgs Neck Bridge snarled traffic for hours, and will leave the Bronx-bound side of the bridge closed to commercial traffic for some time, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials.
The fire began at about 5 a.m. on Friday, July 10 underneath the area where the ramp from the Cross Island Parkway merges into the bridge, and rapidly spread to three alarms.
A construction contractor was working in the area where the fire began, near the Queens end of shrouds covering the underside of the bridge. The fire area was over the water in Little Bay; a fireboat was called to the scene.
“We got a call around 4:58 a.m. about a fire around the construction work area of the bridge,” said FDNY spokesperson Frank Dwyer. “The fire officially stopped at 3 p.m., so it took about 11 hours to calm down.”
The bridge remained closed in both directions until the Queens-bound lanes were finally opened at 12:55 p.m. according to Helena Williams, acting CEO of the MTA. “We will get them opened as soon as is possible,” she said at a press conference at the Little Bay parking lot, under a panoramic view of the damaged bridge.
“Safety is our highest priority,” Williams said. “We are confident in the safety of the bridge.”
However, MTA officials cautioned that the Cross Island Parkway ramp, which had been scheduled to close on Thursday, July 15 as part of the bridge project, would remain closed.
Only two Bronx-bound lanes from the Clearview Expressway were opened at 6:30 p.m., for passenger cars only, until further notice, officials said Trucks are being diverted to the RFK Bridge
A source within the MTA confirmed that some of the work in the area of the fire required “burning” or cutting of steel to be replaced, with high-temperature torches.
“I’m sure the contractor had a fire watch [a worker who looks for sparks or other ignition threats]” the source said.
According to the MTA, the work is being performed by contractor E.E. Cruz of Holmdel, N.J. As part of the project, crews from subcontractor Imperial Iron Works, of the Bronx, were working until 4 a.m. today.
The cause of the fire has not been determined. The incident is being investigated by the MTA.
– With additional reporting by Keldy Ortiz