Emergency Repairs Will Soon Begin on Grand Central Viaduct

A stone wall crashed to the sidewalk of 42nd Street, miraculously missing pedestrians streaming toward Grand Central at the start of rush hour when the errant truck crashed into the parapet on the elevated roadway that encircles the Terminal. The northbound 18-wheel flatbed, making too tight a turn, sent tons of pink granite crashing through a canvas awning at Pershing Square shortly after 4 p.m.

The truck driver, Joseph Herbert Jr., of Delaware, was ticketed for numerous traffic violations. The truck, owned by Western Express of Nashville, was too long, too wide and had an unsecured load as well as being on the route illegally.

Metro-North immediately called Kafka Construction Co. of Long Island City, which had done the exterior renovation of the Terminal and was very familiar with the viaduct structures. They responded quickly to assess damage and stabilize the structure. Plans for repairs are being finalized with the New York City Department of Transportation. To add protection, the railroad has proposed that the roadway be narrowed with the addition of a wider, reinforced curb.

Like the lower half of the terminal, the balustrade is made of Stony Creek granite from Connecticut. Fabricators will return to the original source to find matching stone to carve new balusters and coping.

The historic balustrade lines the elevated circumferential roadway that begins with a ramp at 40st Street and splits at the larger-than-life statue of Cornelius Vanderbilt at the southern fa├žade of Grand Central. The northbound roadway passes on the east side of the Terminal and the southbound road passes on the west. The road, technically Park Avenue, then passes the Met Life Building, crosses over 45th Street and through 220 Park Avenue (the old New York Central Railroad building) where it descends to street level at 46th Street and Park Avenue.

The main entrance to Grand Central and 42nd Street itself were closed for hours while building engineers from Metro-North and inspectors from various New York City departments accessed the damage to the roadway and the terminal. A large vertical crack in the granite fa├žade of the terminal was seen to the right of the front doors. Engineers determined that the steel frame behind it was not damaged and the entrance A was reopened to the public. Vehicular traffic also resumed on the viaduct.

Metro-North workers gathered every piece of the shattered balustrade from the sidewalk. Some pieces will be salvaged while others will have to be carved to match the originals. Metro-North will seek damages to cover all repair costs.

Heavy-duty construction scaffolding was erected below the damage. Workers using a crane removed destabilized stone from the viaduct and erected a protective barrier for the length of the missing stone.

There were no train delays, although some commuters had to scramble to find alternate entrances to the Terminal.