Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Business

As Irma nears, do those big construction cranes across Tampa Bay make you nervous?

Those giant construction cranes looming overhead are a sign of progress in the Tampa Bay area although they pose an unnerving sight as Hurricane Irma approaches.

But you can probably rest easy — tower cranes are designed to withstand the highest winds Tampa Bay is apt to see.

"One of the design features of tower cranes that makes them so sturdy is that they will spin just like a weather vane when the wind speeds get higher," said Scott Gerard, a vice president of Moss Construction, one of Florida's largest construction companies. "It looks a little disconcerting when you see it because you think something is wrong, but that is normal and a safety feature of cranes."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: South Florida apartment/condo developers flock to Tampa Bay

As a tropical storm nears, Gerard said, the general contractor on a project is also supposed to make certain that the vertical portion of the crane is securely fastened to the building with tiebacks. The precautions are necessary because it generally is not feasible to take down a large crane on relatively short notice.

"It could be a three or four day (process)," Scott said, "and there are only so many crews available to do that. That's why these are designed the way they are."

Huge tower cranes are currently at several sites around the bay area, including the 41-story ONE St. Petersburg condo project, the American Museum of Arts and Crafts and the 930 Central Flats apartments, all in or near downtown St. Petersburg.

In Tampa, cranes rise from the future sites of apartment complexes in the Channelside area and along the Hillsborough River where the Tampa Tribune building once stood.

Although cranes must meet state standards for wind loads, municipalities can adopt their own, tougher standards. Building officials in Tampa and St. Petersburg did not return calls today; an employee of St. Petersburg's Construction Services Department said building official Rick Dunn was busy contacting general contractors in regard to their hurricane safety plans.

"I'm sure that all those contractors out there that have the tower cranes and whatnot are buckling them down as best they can,'' Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. "Many of those contractors are South Florida-based. So this is not something that's new to them. But we're dealing with a storm of unprecedented capacity."

In Miami, where 22 to 25 big cranes dot the downtown skyline, city officials warned that cranes could not survive the most severe hurricane.

"These tower cranes are designed to withstand winds up to 145 miles per hour, not a Category 5 hurricane," Maurice Pons, deputy director of Miami's building department, said in a statement.

Pons said he would advise residents not to stay in a building next to a construction crane during Irma. While the horizontal arm swings around, the arm's counterbalance is heavy and poses a potential danger to adjacent buildings if the crane collapses.

Based on forecasts as of late Wednesday, Irma is projected to have maximum winds of about 130 miles an hour by the time it passes Miami and heads north.

During Super Storm Sandy in 2012, a crane atop a $1.5 billion luxury high-rise in midtown Manhattan collapsed in high winds and dangled precariously. Some buildings, including the Parker Meridien hotel with 900 guests, were evacuated as a precaution and the streets below were cleared, but there were no injuries.

Times staff writer Rick Danielson contributed to this report Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate

Comments
Yelp search results reflected racist stereotype that Asian American restaurants serve cat and dog

Yelp search results reflected racist stereotype that Asian American restaurants serve cat and dog

A strange thing happened when typing "dog menu" into the restaurant ratings website and app Yelp. It automatically generated suggested searches. There were dog massage, hot dogs, pet groomers. Also: "dog meat." But it got more disturbing. Take Yelp...
Updated: 3 hours ago
As more emotional support animals fly on U.S. airlines, Congress eyes new ways to tighten the leash

As more emotional support animals fly on U.S. airlines, Congress eyes new ways to tighten the leash

WASHINGTON — With hundreds of thousands of emotional support animals taking to the skies on U.S. airlines, Congress may start pulling a tighter leash.Two new legislative options emerged this week to address a hairy issue for American Airlines, Southw...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Duke Energy announces new Florida leadership

Duke Energy announces new Florida leadership

ST. PETERSBURG — The head of Duke Energy Florida is leaving his post to take a new role with the utility’s parent company June 1, the company announced on Wednesday.Harry Sideris, 47, was appointed this week to serve as vice president and chief distr...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Comcast challenges Murdoch with rival bid for U.K.-based Sky

LONDON — U.S. media giant Comcast on Wednesday offered $30.7 billion for Sky PLC, topping a bid from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox and setting up a bidding war for Britain’s biggest satellite TV company.Comcast said it would pay approximately $17...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Pasco County

Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Pasco County

TRINITY — Pasco County will be getting its first Sprouts Farmers Market, the organic grocery chain announced Wednesday. The new store will open at the Village at Mitchell Ranch on State Road 54 and Little Road. Officials with the speciality st...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Circle K launching own gas at eight Hillsborough locations

Circle K launching own gas at eight Hillsborough locations

TAMPA — Circle K is converting the gas station portion of eight of its Hillsborough locations to Circle K fuel. Previously, the fuel was provided by other brands, such as Shell. The new Circle K branding also brings with it the Canadian-owned conveni...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Florida leads other hurricane-prone states in quality of its building codes

Florida leads other hurricane-prone states in quality of its building codes

Florida has the strongest residential building codes among 18 coastal states, according to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. Florida’s rating is 95, almost three times higher than lowest-ranked Texas. Other states wit...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Study: Tampa Bay homes in once ‘redlined’ neighborhoods worth half those in other areas

Study: Tampa Bay homes in once ‘redlined’ neighborhoods worth half those in other areas

Times staffRedlining’ — banks’ refusal to make mortgage loans in certain areas — still has a huge effect on housing values even though the practice was banned 50 years ago. According to Zillow, a Tampa Bay house in a once-redlined area is worth less ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opens first Tampa restaurant, Nebraska Mini-Mart grab-and-go coming soon

Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opens first Tampa restaurant, Nebraska Mini-Mart grab-and-go coming soon

NOW OPEN: TEX-MEX CHAIN CHUY’SThe Austin, Texas-based Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opened its first Tampa restaurant on Tuesday, giving away free Chuy’s for two for a year to the first 50 customers. I know, we missed it, it’s a bummer, but we can still visit...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Clearwater looks to move out of City Hall to speed up Imagine Clearwater waterfront redevelopment

Clearwater looks to move out of City Hall to speed up Imagine Clearwater waterfront redevelopment

CLEARWATER — Elected officials have talked about relocating City Hall from the downtown bluff for a good 30 years. Now there’s a jolt of urgency to actually do it.Voters backed a referendum in November that essentially greenlighted the $55 million re...
Published: 04/25/18