Nearly all Highway 24 lanes reopen after crane knocked down power line near BART track, prompting emergency repairs

ByMelanie Woodrow KGO logo
Tuesday, September 3, 2019
Power restored in Lafayette after crane hits power line, prompts Hwy 24 closure
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Highway 24 near the Lafayette Bart Station will shut down around noon for emergency repairs related to a power line downed by a crane early Monday morning.

LAFAYETTE, Calif. (KGO) -- Nearly all the lanes of Highway 24 in Lafayette are back open following an early morning accident.

PG&E restored power to all customers by 3:37 p.m. Labor Day Monday after a 265 ton crane replacing equipment at the Lafayette BART station hit a power line just before 530 a.m.

The line came down in the westbound lane of Highway 24 which was reopened just before 630 a.m.

The incident initially knocked out electricity to more than 700 customers total including a Lafayette shopping center owned by Joan Bruzzone.

"I own the headaches," joked Bruzzone.

She says no once called to tell her what had happened.

"I just arrived and almost had a heart attack," said Bruzzone. "I thought what's happening, what's going on here and then I found out."

As did Bruzzone's tenants.

The Whole Foods used big refrigerated trucks for some of its inventory, Peet's gave out free coffee and Yogurt Shack powered parts of the store with a generator,

"Whatever is loaded into the machines we can't save," said Yogurt Shack owner Ron Coccimiglio.

PG&E planned to restore power in three stages to limit traffic impacts by closing Highway 24 in both directions for 20 minutes at a time, but ultimately only needed two closures to complete the overhead rewiring work.

"A lot of this is going to be by feel though, it's going to depend on how the traffic flows so there is some wiggle room there," said BART Spokesperson Chris Fillipi.

"Hopefully they'll be able to get it fixed soon," said shopper Dan Lapporte.

Businesses stand to lose big bucks on a holiday they were hoping to be open.

"Who's responsible? They should pay for it," said Bruzzone.

"We do have a claims process for this sort of thing," said Fillipi.

Fillipi says it's possible the contractor and subcontractor operating the crane could be financially responsible for any claims that are filed.

He does not expect any impact on Tuesday's back to work commute.

RELATED: BART warns riders of weekend shutdown between Orinda, Walnut Creek

BART is currently replacing 50 year old track through Lafayette, which is their busiest line.

The station is scheduled to be closed for six weekends while they do the work. This incident did not impact the projects' progress.

BART officials expect the station to be back open for Tuesday's commute.

A San Leandro-based company owns the crane. On Tuesday, Bigge Crane and Rigging Co. (Bigge) emailed ABC7 News the following statement:

"In the 4 AM hour Monday, September 2, 2019, a crane made contact with a PG&E power line. The line fell across Highway 24 between Pleasant Hill Road and Oak Hill Road. Bigge Crane and Rigging Co. (Bigge) owns the crane in question. The crane operator was directed to back up the crane, by a signal person, who may not have seen the power line. No injuries resulted, and the crane suffered minimal damage. Bigge is cooperating with all parties involved to continue investigating the matter further."

A BART spokesperson says the signal person was a DMZ employee. However, BART also says the Bigge operator failed to lower the boom prior to moving the crane 100 feet and that the boom shouldn't have been In the raised position. The BART spokesperson says that is what caused the crane to hit the line, not the signal person.

The BART spokesperson says BART and the prime contractor, DMZ, are conducting parallel independent investigations. Bigge says it is also conducting an internal investigation.