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Transportation Train derails, catches fire, bridge collapses -- who gets the blame? (Tempe AZ)

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News Today--7/29/2020:

Train derails in Tempe, Arizona, causing fire and partial bridge collapse

Train derailment, massive fire on bridge over Arizona lake



  • Who gets the blame? ie. Which agencies or companies are to blame?
  • How to reduce the chances of something like this happening again?
 

DVD

Cyburbian
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I'm not sure who's responsible for what on that bridge. I'm assuming the rail lines, train and all that is Union Pacific's problem. I don't know if Tempe has any ownership in the bridge.

I didn't notice any smoke in my 7am commute, but I wasn't paying and I'm only facing that directions for a minute. My coworker got to see lots of smoke coming from that side of town, but he didn't pass the bridge.

That bridge is ancient. At least in Arizona terms. I remember it getting washed out in a flood back in the 80'. I'm sure they'll just fix it up again because I believe it's part of the UP intercontinental line.
 

estromberg

Cyburbian
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252
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I'm not sure who's responsible for what on that bridge. I'm assuming the rail lines, train and all that is Union Pacific's problem. I don't know if Tempe has any ownership in the bridge.
As a bridge solely for trains, I'd be very surprised if there was any ownership in the bridge other than UP. Railroads are notoriously possessive of their ROW. They will likely seek public funds to repair or replace it and will probably get them.
 
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You know the expression,
"You can't make this stuff up!"
"Weeks before train derailment on Tempe bridge, there was another on the same bridge"
Article Snippets:
"Around 4 p.m. on June 26 [2020], a Union Pacific train derailed about 12 cars on the Tempe Town Lake Bridge. The rail line was reopened on the early morning of June 28. . . .
Union Pacific did not say whether the June 26 incident had any connection to [last] Wednesday's fire."

"[Tempe Resident Elizabeth Deitchman] recalled when she went on a walk a month ago, on June 27, and witnessed a closure of the roads and walkways that piqued her interest. Deitchman approached an officer to ask what was going on, pulling out her cell phone to record the interaction. In the video recording, she asked an officer what had happened. He responded 'Yeah, they're working on the bridge, so they're removing railroad spikes and big logs and stuff like that and a lot of it's falling through presenting a safety hazard for anyone walking through while they're trying to work on it.' The officer then confirmed that a train had derailed the night before."
" 'I'm just curious why no one knows it derailed,' Deitchman said to the officer. . . .The officer shrugged and responded 'It's not really a big news story I guess.' "

"Train incident on June 27, 2020, at Tempe Town Lake": Photos
 

landy

Member
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  • How to reduce the chances of something like this happening again?

More government inspections and heftier fines for failures to correct violations. Heck, start issuing fines for not ensuring that a bridge was inspected by FRA if there is a derailment/accident. The issue is that inspections take time and money. The last paragraph below specifically references aging bridges and the need for better inspection methods.

 
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Mon 8/10, Revised Wed 8/12:
Collapsed Tempe bridge to be rebuilt this week, train service could be restored by Friday [8-14-2020]
"Union Pacific will cover the costs to rebuild the bridge and road, although company officials did not provide a cost estimate."

"The railroad company is eager to get the line back in service. The derailment has prevented most freight shipments coming in and out of metro Phoenix, company officials have said."
_______________________________


My question:
Union Pacific is being very agreeable about covering the costs and is rebuilding in a very efficient, timely manner. Is UP usually this way, or is there cause for concern that they might be "covering up" something?
 

DVD

Cyburbian
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When the bridge belongs to UP and this is part of a transcontinental line and the major service for the Phoenix metro they are very agreeable to getting things fixed.
 
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When the bridge belongs to UP and this is part of a transcontinental line and the major service for the Phoenix metro they are very agreeable to getting things fixed.
You were right - there was hardly any red tape. UP implicitly admitted its guilt by paying for the cleanup and bridge-reconstruction - and that was that.
If this had been the Port Authority of NY & NJ, the matter would have been in the courts for years!

"Damaged portion of bridge at Tempe Town Lake demolished Sunday"
https://www.azfamily.com/news/damag...cle_912770be-d4d4-11ea-9381-03d7a8644f9c.html

Still, UP demolished the bridge so quickly and efficiently that there was no time for an in-depth investigation of the damaged pieces. That's why I'm wondering if UP "covered something up".
Or in their over-eagerness to speedily restore coverage for the Phoenix area, did UP accidentally demolish key clues to the derailment, fire, and bridge collapse? Should UP be given the benefit of the doubt?
 
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DVD

Cyburbian
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I don't give UP the benefit of the doubt. I would not be surprised if there was some bad maintenance records. Only because it's a big company. I haven't had any shady dealings with railroads. It doesn't seem anyone here is really concerned. The damage doesn't seem to be major - if you consider replacing a bridge not major.
 
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Experts Will Study the Environmental Impacts of the Tempe Train Fire and Chemical Spill
About 500 gallons of the chemical cyclohexanone leaked out of one derailed train car, according to UP.

Cyclohexanone, a common, flammable liquid solvent, is an irritant of the skin and eyes. Humans & animals can potentially be harmed by inhaling or ingesting it, but it's not a carcinogen. "Information on toxicity to human beings is fragmentary," said a National Library of Medicine article.
...the leaked cyclohexanone didn't go into the Town Lake. Much of it stayed on the ground near the train cars that fell from the bridge, while an unknown amount poured into a storm drain that empties into a spillway in the mostly dry riverbed a quarter-mile or so west of the lake's western dam.
A haz-mat team later covered the cyclohexanone on the ground with foam to prevent an explosion, then scooped it out of the area.
[UP]swiftly built a berm downstream of the dam, then flushed the storm drain "all the way through" before recovering and properly disposing of the chemical.
The July 31 sampling "will inform whether residual material is present in the riverbed and whether additional actions or remediation are necessary."
 
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