Partial Collapse at Traverse City Construction Site

City Police and Fire were dispatched to a building collapse at the job site of the new Honor Bank

There were some scary moments at a Traverse City job site Tuesday morning, as a brick wall collapsed around construction crews. Collapse 2

That job site is right downtown in the 400 block of East Front Street. The accident caused crews to close down a part of Front Street to all traffic. The site is home to a four story building project – including lending offices for Honor bank, retail space, and other offices planned for the upper floors. But things are on hold after the wall came crashing down.

Fire Chief Jim Tuller says, “There were three structures that were up, the structure on the east side was the one they were working on, and that’s what collapsed.”

Collapse 3On either end of the job site: two stairwells. The stairwell on the west end was finished, and on the east end, only the outside wall was in place. But with construction crews on the job, that far outside wall gave way – and collapsed.

Chief Tuller says firefighters “initially located two patients, one injured pretty severely, and made sure I had a second North Flight unit coming.” But in all, Chief Tuller says four workers were in the area of the wall’s collapse. “There were two victims that were hurt pretty severely. One was trapped by the debris field from a collapse of a portion of the building on the east side of the structure which was the part of the building they were working on.” He calls the other two workers “walking wounded” because they weren’t in the middle of the debris.

Chief Tuller says crews were able to reach them immediately. “Thankfully no one was completely covered by the debris field, the two patients that were more severely injured were partially covered – one of them – and they were extricated in a quick fashion to a safe area where we could stabilize them. With a building collapse there’s always a chance for a secondary collapse.”

The Chief says all four victims were alert and conscious and everyone is expected to be okay. Collapse 1

David Moore with REI, the site contractor, says their structural engineer is on site looking to figure out what happened, and OSHA will be coming to the scene as well. But they have ruled out a couple of causes. “There was no wind. The building sits on pilings 30-40 feet deep. So there’s not any erosion issues. It’s been standing there since last Thursday. We don’t really know what happened. We had the structural engineer out on site and he says it’s safe to start cleaning up. We talked to MI OSHA a little bit, and they said we can start cleaning up after we take some pictures.”

Collapse 5The one wall collapsed, but also damaged a structure in the middle of the site, which is an elevator shaft. “We have a plan from the structural engineer. We have to brace things.” Crews are already cleaning up the site, but there’s no word yet on when construction will resume. The Fire Chief says, “They’re working a plan how to make this area safe here.” And Moore adds, “Until MI OSHA gives us some update on what they think, that’s where we’re at. Even the structural engineer isn’t really sure at this point.”

But Moore says his biggest concern is for the workers and their injuries. “Nothing major. Thank the Lord there were no deaths. And that’s the most important thing above all else.”

Fire crews evacuated one office building next door as a precaution, but there is no neighboring business on the side where the collapse happened.