Construction Worker Briefly Trapped in CVC Tunnel Accident

Posted October 15, 2003 at 11:53am

A portion of the truck tunnel being constructed in conjunction with the Capitol Visitor Center collapsed Wednesday, briefly trapping one worker.

“There was some hand-digging with shovels and picks in an area adjacent to the old Russell [Senate Office Building] tunnel” when a portion of a nearby wall collapsed, CVC spokesman Tom Fontana explained.

The falling dirt knocked over one construction worker, who had been digging on his knees near several steel supports. The man’s legs were buried by the fallen dirt, but he was quickly freed, Fontana said.

The worker, who is employed by Schnabel Foundation Co., a CVC subcontractor, did not appear injured but was transported to George Washington University Hospital for testing, Fontana said. The worker, who’s name has not been released, was listed in stable condition.

“He was sitting up and talking. He was fully coherent,” Fontana said.

Construction on the tunnel, designed to bring deliveries to the Capitol underground, resumed shortly after the incident, which occurred sometime after 8 a.m. in a portion of the tunnel located beneath the East Front Plaza on the Capitol’s Senate side.

It is not clear whether recent rains may have weakened the soil in the area, Fontana said.

He said workers received a safety briefing following the incident, advising them on precautions for excavating the area, such as working in smaller sections.

Since major work on the 580,000-square-foot subterranean visitor center began in 2002, there have been a handful of “minor accidents,” Fontana said. Among those, one worker slipped while using a saw and cut his knee and another damaged his hand.

“We have logged in almost 2 million man hours, and we’ve been very successful so far,” Fontana said.