New Orleans crane demolition, ‘Demo Day’ is here for Hard Rock Hotel cranes.
A crowd gathered Saturday near the Joy Theater’s marquee on Canal Street to learn the precise time when contractors would try to destroy two heavily damaged cranes threatening parts of downtown New Orleans from their perches atop the collapsed Hard Rock Hotel.
But demolition day turned into a dud — again — after Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced to reporters and onlookers about 12:30 p.m. that the city would postpone by a day the bold attempt to implode the cranes.
The Krewe of Boo parade, which Cantrell had canceled just minutes before, would go forward Saturday night after all, she said. The cranes’ demise, which is supposed to involve a series of carefully placed and sequenced explosive charges, was rescheduled for sometime Sunday afternoon.
Officials gave few details on the reason for the latest delay, other than to say that lacing explosives around two massive, swaying structures had proven trickier than expected. One crane is about 270 feet tall; the other is over 300 feet.
“They found out some things about it that are changing the way they’re going to take it down,” New Orleans Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell said. “The crane’s more damaged than they thought, so they need to do things that are a little bit safer.”
Local officials are working with engineering and demolition experts in an attempt to drop the looming cranes into the footprint of the half-finished hotel without causing further damage to adjoining streets, other city infrastructure and historic buildings.
The 18-story Hard Rock Hotel’s top floors collapsed suddenly on Oct. 12 as more than 100 construction workers were laboring on the site. Three men were killed and dozens suffered mostly minor injuries. Two bodies remain trapped inside the wreckage.
Under sunny skies Saturday morning, demolition crews ascended to the sides of the damaged cranes to inspect them and place explosive charges. The city hopes the explosives will drop the cranes’ massive horizontal booms and then topple the central towers in a cascade of metal that, with luck, will land within the footprint of the construction site.