A crane being used for work on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge toppled over after dropping a 129-ton piece of metal it was removing from underneath the bridge, a Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman said.

The barge-mounted crane was working in tandem with another crane to lower a section of the bridge’s temporary support structure via a large basket onto the barge near the tower under the deck of the new self-anchored suspension span, MTC spokesman John Goodwin said.

For reasons that have yet to be determined, at about 12:15 p.m., the 258,000-pound temporary structure fell out of the basket and onto the empty barge below, causing the crane and its 168-foot boom to lose its center of gravity and also topple over, Goodwin said.

The temporary steel structure punctured the barge but did not sink it. There were four people conducting the work–two crane operators and two ironworkers–but no one was injured in the incident, according to Goodwin.

“This has been a remarkable project for the safety of the workers,” he said. “We’re very pleased that nobody was injured here.”

The 99-by-88-foot barge is disabled and will have to be towed away, but remained under the bridge as of late this afternoon, Goodwin said.

The U.S. Coast Guard responded to the incident with a boat and helicopter to make sure there was no one in the water, Coast Guard Lt. Erin Gilson said.

A Coast Guard boat was still patrolling the area this afternoon to enforce a safety zone around the barge, Gilson said.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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