BQE Billboard Collapse May Have Been Cause by Bad Bolts

By Meredith Hoffman | January 24, 2012 12:56pm 

 WILLIAMSBURG—Faulty bolts may have prompted a billboard to crash onto the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway earlier this month, city officials said.

The toppled billboard, which caused the partial collapse of a nearby building at 421 Meeker Ave. and backed up traffic on the expressway, may have been bolted insecurely to its mast, officials said. Investigators are checking other billboards in the area for similar safety risks.

"Our inspector's engineers believe that the bolts failed leading to the collapse," said Tony Sclafani, spokesperson for the Department of Buildings, "but it's going to take some time to determine why they failed."

Earlier, officials found that the billboard had an illegal advertisement that was prohibited by the city's zoning rules. Sclafani said the DOB would issue violations to the property owner for the faulty bolts and for the ad.

The owner of a mechanic shop two doors down from 421 Meeker Ave. said he heard the billboard shaking just before it collapsed Jan. 13, sending him running outside.

"I was afraid it was going to fall and kill us,” Luis Ortega said in Spanish.

"It was shaking and making sounds," he added. "I said to people it was going to fall.”