One of the contractors involved in a fatal crane collapse in South Lake Union only asked for one road closure during the crane’s disassembly, allowing Mercer Street to remain open.
Four people died when the tower crane collapsed Saturday: two ironworkers, and two people on Mercer Street.
Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) records show that Omega Morgan, one of five companies now being investigated for the collapse, only asked for Valley Street to be closed during the removal. Records also revealed the company asked to perform the two-day disassembly the prior weekend, but SDOT rejected the request citing an event conflict.
The company’s request falls in line with similar removal plans and current city guidelines.
“We require all construction firms to submit a permit request for any work that requires closures to public streets or sidewalks. Our permit review process adheres to federal and local guidelines. We also require that streets and sidewalks underneath the work zone be closed whenever cranes are actively lifting and moving materials over the public right of way,” SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson explained in a lengthy message to KING 5.
But in this case, nothing was hanging over Mercer Street until it was too late.
Former longtime City of Seattle employee Alan Justad was one of the victims of the crane collapse.
Justad worked in the Department of Planning and Development for years, rising to the role of Deputy Director. He served as a face for the department as a public affairs spokesperson.
Bryan Stevens worked with Justad for years and now serves a similar role with the Department of Construction and Inspections.
"It’s been very difficult for me and everyone else who knew Alan during his 31 years at the department. He was an excellent communicator and had a knack for understanding people; peeling away layers of concern and emotion to focus on the key issues for the public,” Stevens told KING 5. “His integrity was obvious, and his disarming personality and placid demeanor made him a mentor for some and resource for many. He was known to invite young reporters into the office to explain our permitting and code enforcement processes and how to access information before technology made it more accessible. This is shocking news for all of us who knew Alan and our thoughts are with his family."
Friends said Justad was an avid musician, and that his wife passed away near Justad's retirement a few years ago. He is survived by three adult daughters, who live out of state.
"A true family man," one friend told KING 5. "I want to know why the city allowed that road to be open."
On Wednesday, Seattle city council members on the planning, land use and zoning committee met to discuss how much oversight the city has over cranes in city limits.