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Flag-Draped Excavator at Work on Ground Zero

A Kobelco SK350, 81,800 lb. (37,104 kg), 270 hp (201 kW) excavator equipped with a shear was brought in from heavy equipment dealer Robert H. Finke & Sons of Selkirk, N.Y., to handle the demolition of the bridge spans.
Motorists not only got a clear view of the demolition work, but also of the Kobelco excavator wrapped in American flag graphics.
The Kobelco excavator/shear product combination, with its 10.0 rpm swing speed, quickly cut through all 167,000 lbs. (75,750 kg) of the six, 10 ft. (3 m) sections of the bridge.

Downtown Manhattan has been abuzz with massive construction projects for more than 10 years following 911. While the construction and reconstruction continues, the new normal in terms of pedestrian traffic in the area is starting to present itself. The Vesey Street, West Side Highway intersection is one area that represents this shift.

The first Vesey Street Bridge originally provided access from the World Trade Center to the World Financial Center. This original bridge was destroyed in the collapse of 1 World Trade Center during the Sept. 11 attacks, closing the intersection of Vesey Street and the West Side Highway.

Ground was broken for a temporary Vesey Street Bridge in August of 2003, opening in November 2003, when PATH train service to a temporary terminal by the WTC site resumed, connecting the southwest corner of Vesey Street and the West Side Highway, next to 3 World Trade Center, to the northeast corner, next to 140 West Side Highway (Verizon Building). Access to the temporary panel bridge was designed with the America Disability Act in mind. Escalators and elevators were built on each side of the bridge to allow pedestrians access without the use of stairs. This temporary bridge allowed for the safe movement of pedestrian traffic over the busy West Side Highway as a new, underground tunnel was being built.

The temporary bridge at Vesey Street was officially closed on Oct. 7, 2013, with demolition starting just before Thanksgiving and anticipated to wrap up in early January.


The demolition project of the temporary bridge is being handled through a joint venture between Tully Construction Co. and EE Cruz and Company, both of whom have been actively working to restore downtown Manhattan since shortly after the 9-11 attacks. According to Bob Smith, the job superintendent, “The bridges themselves were removed in spans on a Friday and Saturday evening, the only two days that the busy West Side Highway could be shut down. Once removed, each span was placed on the ground ready for the actual demolition work to begin.”

A Kobelco SK350, 81,800 lb. (37,104 kg), 270 hp (201 kW) excavator equipped with a shear was brought in from heavy equipment dealer Robert H. Finke & Sons of Selkirk, N.Y., to handle the demolition of the bridge spans. With one of the spans placed in the closed off center corridor of the West Side Highway, rubber necking delays were definitely a reality during demolition. Motorists not only got a clear view of the demolition work, but also of the Kobelco excavator wrapped in American flag graphics.

“This Kobelco 350 is part of our rental fleet,” said Don Fiacco, general manager of Finke Equipment. “When we received the call for an excavator with a shear, it was apparent which excavator we’d be sending down. The patriotic sentiment tied to this Kobelco machine, originally displayed at ConExpo 2011, and its specifications of course, made it a perfect fit, so we installed the shear on it and brought it down to the city to complete the work.”

The Kobelco excavator/shear product combination, with its 10.0 rpm swing speed, quickly cut through all 167,000 lbs. (75,750 kg) of the six, 10 ft. (3 m) sections of the bridge. With the demolition nearing completion, the next portion of the project is the reconstruction of the center lanes of the West Side Highway, where barrier walls and plantings will be installed.

The temporary Vesey Street Bridge was replaced by an underground passageway connecting the World Financial Center with the PATH station and ultimately the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, which will connect to the Fulton Center via the Dey Street Passageway.

Tully Construction Company and EE Cruz and Company are both well-established contractors in the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan areas. Robert H. Finke & Sons has been a leader in heavy equipment sales and equipment rentals for contractors and municipalities in the New York State Capital Region for more than 37 years.

For more information, call 518/767-9337 or visit www.finkeeqiupment.com.