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DUMBO Boulders Closed After Hunk of Debris Falls from Manhattan Bridge

By Gwynne Hogan | May 24, 2017 12:25pm
 The Cliffs at Long Island City is opening an outdoor bouldering gym at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The Cliffs at Long Island City is opening an outdoor bouldering gym at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
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DNAinfo/Alexandra Leon

DUMBO — A hunk of debris fell from the Manhattan Bridge last week into open air rock climbing area below in Brooklyn Bridge Park, narrowly missing dozens of climbers, witnesses and the owners said.

DUMBO Boulders, located directly under the Manhattan Bridge, had to temporarily close their climbing gym after the incident, which terrified climbers who described a loud bang and a dust cloud emanating from behind the bouldering wall where people were climbing at the facility on the unseasonably warm evening.

Owner of the DUMBO Boulders, Mike Wolfert who also runs the climbing gym The Cliffs in Long Island City, said they'd been in meetings with Brooklyn Bridge Park, MTA and DOT and decided to close temporarily while they investigate.

"As some of you may be aware, a piece of debris—which appears to have fallen from the Manhattan Bridge—landed within the DUMBO Boulders property," a message sent out Tuesday night to climbers read. "Our team and our community are always our priority, so we have decided to error on the side of caution and temporarily close DUMBO Boulders while we investigate further."

Wolfert did not respond to further inquiries.

In 2016, when DUMBO Boulders opened underneath the Manhattan Bridge, the Department of Transportation had a netting hung in place under the bridge, though that netting was taken down at some point, Clay Grable, a spokesman for Brooklyn Bridge Park, confirmed. 

Few details about the object that fell were available.

The city's DOT, which owns the bridge, deferred to the MTA for comment. MTA officials said the DOT's contractors had taken down the netting and deferred back to the DOT. 

In a 2014 and 2015 bridge inspection, both upper and lower levels of the Manhattan Bridge earned "fair" ratings. 

Brooklyn Bridge Park's facilities under the bridge including a dog park, and waterfront walkway, will remain open and DUMBO's closure is their decision.