MTA Negligence Led to 2018 Borough Hall Ceiling Collapse, Audit Finds

What to Know

  • Significant flaws have been uncovered in NYCT's underground structural inspections, according to audit into Borough Hall ceiling collapse
  • The MTA inspector general released the results of the review Tuesday
  • The audit comes after part of a ceiling collapsed inside the Borough Hall subway station on June 20, 2018

Significant flaws have been uncovered in NYC Transit's underground structural inspections, according to an audit into the dangerous collapse of the Borough Hall Station ceiling in June 2018.

The MTA inspector general released the results of the review Tuesday. The review found that despite nearly two years of monitoring, NYCT engineers relied entirely on ineffective inspection measures and failed to recognize the severity of the structural defect that caused the collapse.

The audit comes after part of a ceiling collapsed inside the Borough Hall subway station on June 20, 2018. The incident ended up sending chunks of concrete and bricks raining onto the platform, and leaving a light fixture dangling overhead.

The FDNY said at the time that a 50-year-old man sustained a minor injury to the shoulder when the ceiling caved in. Service was temporarily interrupted the day of the collapse. 

According to the audit, following the June collapse, NYCT engineers continued to use ineffective methods for testing the integrity of the terra cotta ceiling and failed to identify and report similar deteriorating conditions elsewhere in the station.

The audit also goes on to say that another issue found was the engineering unit’s disregard of a previous OIG review of similar incidents offering guidance on how to improve structural inspections at NYCT.

Additionally, according to the audit, OIG auditors found significant flaws in NYCT’s underground structural inspections, including how NYCT was unaware of which stations utilize uncommon materials, such as terra cotta or how to properly maintain these materials. NYCT also did not keep comprehensive records of which repairs required immediate action.

"It is extremely fortunate that no one was seriously injured in the Borough Hall ceiling collapse last June,” MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny said in a statement. “Had the recommendations issued in our 2010 report been fully implemented, it is likely that the extensive station damage and costly repairs could have been reduced, if not prevented. The safety of MTA riders, workers, and infrastructure will continue to be a priority for my Office, and I am confident that under current NYCT leadership with President Byford our recommendations will be utilized to prevent future occurrences.”

In response to the audit's findings, the NYCT agreed to all of the recommendations, according to the Office of the Inspector General.

In a statement to News 4, MTA Chief Communications Officer Abbey Collins said: “For years the MTA has been using outside consultants to perform special structural inspections and surveys, in addition to NYC Transit inspections that occur annually.

"When the century-old Borough Hall station ceiling proved defective, engineers assessed the materials involved, shielding the structure, until a full rehabilitation could begin as part of the new capital plan,” the statement goes on to say. 

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