Safety concerns increase after construction accident on 520 bridge injures 8 on bus
BELLEVUE — Construction on part of the 520 bridge has been suspended in the wake of Tuesday night’s crane accident involving a Metro bus.
The state is now investigating the contractors that were operating the crane that lost part of its load of pipes, causing a huge traffic sign to come crashing onto the bus.
“Something hit me in the head really hard,” says Whitney Lee, one of the passengers on that bus. “This huge object came through the very center of the bus. All the lights went off, everyone started screaming.”
A source with knowledge of the accident tells Q13 FOX that it’s highly unusual that traffic would be allowed to continue on the bridge during this type of work.
The Washington State Department of Transportation says they did close one lane. They released a statement that read, in part: "Last night`s incident was during a routine operation that has been performed safely and successfully many times by the contractor since October 2014."
That contractor, Flatiron Construction, suspended work Wednesday. They say they will cooperate with the state Department of Labor and Industries investigation into what went wrong.
But some people are now wondering about the risks with all the other construction projects around the Puget Sound.
“It’s probably something that doesn’t happen very often. But the fact that it did happen is a little alarming,” says Kati Ortiz.
Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson agrees, and is calling for a 30 day stand down. That means work on all state projects will stop before each shift, so crews can review safety.
Engineers will also do walk-throughs on all job sites, making sure contractors are meeting safety expectations.
Even though those standards won’t be mandatory for private projects, Ortiz hopes this accident forces all crews to make safety their top priority.
“Because there is so much construction going on and there are so many moving parts and so many dangerous parts, I definitely think it should be something that’s taken very seriously.”
As for Whitney, she’s counting her blessings that she made it safely off the bus. She’s not sure she’s going to take the chance getting on again.
“I don`t want to go on 520 anymore. Not after that.”
Eight people on the bus were injured in the accident, but only one remained hospitalized Wednesday night.
Even though the bus windshield was smashed and there was a lot of damage to the front of the bus, the driver was OK. He was able to get out and help his passengers out. Many people are calling him a hero for his quick actions.