No injuries in Peterborough bridge construction crane rollover, but recovery may take ‘considerable time’

  • A crane working on the Main Street Bridge project in Peterborough tipped over and partially landed in the Contoocook River on Thursday morning. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • A crane working on the Main Street Bridge project in Peterborough tipped over and partially landed in the Contoocook River on Thursday morning. Photo by Lipofskyphoto.com—

  • A crane working on the Main Street Bridge project in Peterborough tipped over and partially landed in the Contoocook River on Thursday morning. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • A crane working on the Main Street Bridge project in Peterborough tipped over and partially landed in the Contoocook River on Thursday morning. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • A crane working on the Main Street Bridge project in Peterborough tipped over and partially landed in the Contoocook River on Thursday morning. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • A crane working on the Main Street Bridge project in Peterborough tipped over and partially landed in the Contoocook River on Thursday morning. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/22/2021 12:30:06 PM

There were no injuries after a piledriver tipped over an embankment at Peterborough’s Main Street Bridge worksite Thursday morning, but the recovery process may be lengthy, town officials said. 

The 90-ton Soilmec drilling rig was being relocated when it tipped over the side of the retaining wall under construction along Route 202, Peterborough Fire Chief Ed Walker said. “The boom wound up in the water, and crane operator was able to get out of the cab,” he said. No injuries were reported from the operator or other workers on site.

Lauren Morrissey was early to share a photo of the overturned machine online. She was inside the Bar Harbor Bank and Trust that overlooks the river, and saw a “frantic”-looking woman with her eyes on the construction site. “Then we looked out the window and saw it,” she said. Morrissey watched as the operator climbed out of the overturned rig. and said she was glad that he seemed all right.

First responders were called to the site at 10:01 a.m., Walker said. They shut down Route 202 but one-lane traffic reopened a little before noon.

Workers noticed a fuel leak from the machine and started cleaning it up after notifying the town’s emergency responders, who in turn alerted the Department of Environmental Services, Walker said. Responders to the scene quickly applied pad to absorb the leaking fuel, and the A.W. Peters oil company arrived on site to offload the remaining fuel in the tank, Walker said. The leak was “quickly contained,” and the DES was conducting a further assessment of the site as of 11:30, Assistant Town Administrator Seth MacLean said.

The machine is now sitting on sheeting that reinforces the retaining wall, and work on the retaining wall is on hold until it can be extracted, MacLean said. At some point in the next couple days, the town will need to close the roads again in order to get it out, Walker said.

“Removal is expected to take considerable time,” Town Administrator Nicole MacStay stated in a press release issued Thursday afternoon. “Given that large equipment will be required for removal, there are likely to be additional road closures in the near future.”

It is too soon to determine how the rollover will affect the project duration or its financial implications, MacLean said, but the town will be working closely with the construction company over the next couple days to determine that as they work on extracting the machine. Work on the bridge can continue in the meantime, he said. An update to the town hadn’t concluded by press time.


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