Recent train derailments spike concerns for Central Texas resident, railroad company responds

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 9:14 AM CDT
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WEST, Texas (KWTX) - The recent train derailment in Ohio, which led to a toxic chemical release, and the derailment in Oklahoma have spiked a Central Texas resident’s concerns about the track that runs behind his home.

West resident, Melvin Adamson, said his concerns about the track actually started after he moved into the home nine years ago. A culvert, or an open drain, lies underneath the railroad about 100 feet away from the back of his home.

“You just look at it, it looks like it’s cracked and falling in, and tons of trains go over it every day,” Adamson said.

He said he noticed the culvert’s deterioration over the years, and, with the heightened concern around railroad safety, he fears the culvert could give out underneath a train and cause a derailment in his and neighbors’ backyards.

“If it comes off the track, I’m directly affected, and a lot of people would be, too,” he said. “I think I’m the only one that sees...and I just want to want to shine a light on it.”

The Federal Railroad Administration’s data shows that derailments are not uncommon in the U.S. There were more than 1,100 train derailments in 2022, but the train derailment in Ohio caused Adamson to want answers concerning the safety of the structure.

He said he tried reaching out to the train company years ago but did not receive a response.

“I want them to come look at it, address it,” he said. “I just think, could it happen? Could this be the one? Surely it could be. Who knows? Or it could not happen at all, but I’m just saying it needs to be maintained, or somebody needs to come out and assure me that, ‘hey, that’s fine.’”

KWTX reached out to Union Pacific regarding the culvert behind Adamson’s backyard.

“We did a special inspection on the culvert in question yesterday and the structure is safe,” Union Pacific stated in an email to KWTX. “It may not be the most attractive, but it is structurally sound for our trains to cross.”

Union Pacific said the company also inspects bridges and culverts twice a year for safety reasons.

Union Pacific did not own the railroads involved in recent derailments in Ohio and Oklahoma.

The transport company stated that anyone who sees something that may be a safety concern on a Union Pacific railway should contact this number--1-888-877-7267.

Adamson can now be relieved about the conditions of the culvert for now.