Crane failure in Kenilworth Corridor

A crane used to insert steel sheets into a piler for tunnel excavation failed and collapsed in the Kenilworth Corridor on July 15. Photo by Andrew Hazzard

A crane failure in the Kenilworth Corridor led residents of a Cedar-Isles-Dean townhome community to temporarily evacuate and disrupted construction of the Southwest Light Rail Transit project.

The incident happened at about 3 p.m. on July 15, when the boom closest to the crane cab broke and crashed into the press-in piler, according to project spokesperson Trevor Roy. The accident occurred because the crane operator left the cab while the machine was in operation, according to an initial Metropolitan Council investigation, a violation of policy for the project contractor, the Lunda-McCrossan joint venture.

The incident occurred just south of Cedar Lake Parkway, and residents in about 10 Cedar Lake Shores townhomes were evacuated for about five hours, according to the Met Council. No injuries were reported, and no damage was found outside of the construction zone.

The crane operator who left the cab has been removed from the project, according to the Met Council. The crane that failed was also removed and will be sent to the manufacturer for inspection.

The crane is used to feed sheets used for tunnel construction into a press-in piler.

The contractor held an additional safety meeting after the incident, and the Met Council says it will increase inspections of cranes throughout the project.

For some in the area, the incident highlights safety issues with the project. Mary Pattock, president of the Cedar-Isles-Dean Neighborhood Association, said it was just a matter of chance that nobody died.

“If the piler had not been there, it would have crashed into townhouses and killed people,” she said. “We have said a million times that it is dangerous to construct that close to the freight train and it is going to be dangerous to run it.”

She said the crane incident is part of a pattern of mistakes on the project that will eventually lead to injury. In June 2019, flaggers managing traffic in the Kenilworth Corridor improperly allowed freight trains to enter the construction zone while people were working; no one was hurt.

The 14.5-mile extension of the Metro Transit Green Line will connect Downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie. Now in the second year of construction, service is expected to begin in 2023.

Zac Farber contributed reporting to this story.