NEW ORLEANS - Work crews are finalizing preparations for a controlled demolition that will take down twin tower cranes that have been swaying precariously over the ruins of the Hard Rock Hotel construction site since a fatal collapse one week ago.
If all goes to plan, the cross beams of the cranes, which each weigh 145,000 pounds, will collapse where they stand, according to New Orleans Fire Department chief Tim McConnell.
Demolition specialists have spent nearly three days placing charges along the crane towers and making strategic cuts to weaken the structures.
McConnell said the plan has always been to take down the cranes, but when each tower began to sway as a tropical storm formed in the Gulf of Mexico, the controlled demolition became a priority.
Governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency, allowing the city to move forward at full speed.
A private memorial ceremony was held early Friday morning for the families of the workers who remain trapped in building rubble.
The evacuation zone already in place around the collapse site was expanded in preparation for the demolition, which was originally scheduled for yesterday around noon, but was pushed back 24 hours.
Follow along on WGNO.com and on the WGNO app for full coverage of the controlled demolition.