March 5, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Councilmember David Greenfield asked Zachary Smith of the Economic Development Corporation whether the agency inspects privately owned piers, one month after the India Street ferry ramp in Greenpoint collapsed into the icy East River. Smith said the agency would be inspecting the privately owned pier going forward. Video
According to NY Waterway, the gangway that connected the fixed pier to the floating landing barge detached at the point where it had been connected to the barge. Preliminary inspections revealed that two spud piles that held the barge in position failed, thereby causing the gangway to drop into the river.
Councilmember Stephen Levin represents the district where the gangway collapsed. He told Smith thankfully nobody was on the gangway when it collapsed.
“We literally dodged a bullet. Someone could have drowned,” said Levin.
Levin asked EDC to keep his office apprised of the ongoing investigation to find out why the gangway collapsed.
Smith reassured Levin the EDC would do that.
“We’ll be in touch with your office as we get information.”
A private pier owner owns the ferry landing at India Street, while BillyBey operates the ferry service between Greenpoint and Lower Manhattan for NY Waterways.
Ferry service on the East River has been growing, so much so that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced an extension of service in December through 2019.
Smith placed the burden of the investigation entirely on the private pier owner.
“The onus is on the private owner of that ferry landing to present us the facts of their findings, and for us to ensure that this landing will only reopen when we know the landing has been rebuilt in a way….that operates safely,” said Smith.
He also said he hopes the landing opens in a few weeks’ time rather than months.
In an interview, Councilmember Levin said he spoke with East River Ferry officials who told him that this is the first type of incident they’ve encountered over the years they’ve been providing service on the East and Hudson Rivers.
“If that’s correct, then something really seriously went wrong here.”
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