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Investigation into BQE billboard collapse

January 14, 2012 3:17:06 PM PST
New information on what may have caused that giant billboard to topple onto a busy expressway in Brooklyn.

A surveillance camera captured the huge sign as it collapsed onto the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway on Friday.

All day, workers turned their blowtorches on the twisted hulk of steel, taking apart the downed lottery billboard piece by piece as neighborhood residents gawked at the sight and counted their blessings.

"I am so lucky it didn't fall the other way it probably would have fallen right on our building," one resident said.

A nearby security camera happened to be recording when a wind gust toppled the seven story billboard.

It crashed onto the BQE and Meeker Avenue below.

"As a public safety person who [has] been in this business for a long time I find that remarkable. It was Friday the 13th but it was a very good day for the people who were traveling that roadway," Frank McCarton from the Office of Emergency Management said.

And as the cleanup continued, so did the search for answers.

A source close to the investigation tells Eyewitness News inspectors are focused on the bolts that held the pole to the ground.

At least half of them obviously failed.

Meanwhile, the city confirms the billboard had been placed illegally within 200 feet of the BQE, a violation of a city statute that clearly has not been enforced here.

The expressway is dotted with other billboards, all just as close.

"It is a miracle that nobody was hurt, that nobody was killed when this happened," City Councilman Stephen Levin said.

Levin represents this part of Brooklyn and says he wants to know who's responsible for enforcing the billboard ban and more importantly, for inspecting the structures which hold the signs up.

"If we need to revisit the issue and step up fines, then that's what we'll do," Levin said.

Two lanes of the BQE are still closed because of the collapse.

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