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Union Pacific answers to city on train derailment

By: Genevieve Curtis
EL PASO, Texas -- Clean up from the El Paso's first major train derailment in more than 10 years is still a work in progress.

Union Pacific answered to El Paso City Council Tuesday about the off-course crash that happened Oct. 18 and shut down Interstate 10 near Copia Street for several hours.

As KFOX14 reported, two lanes on the interstate remain closed while construction crews work to repair the damage.

The Texas Department of Transportation said the repairs are on track to be completed in early November.

Union Pacific official Ivan Jaime explained that seven empty rail cars jumped the tracks, slamming into the concrete pillars that support I-10. However, the exact cause of the derailment is still under investigation.

"It's important to be accurate on the cause so that it doesn't happen again. Careers can be ruined over things like this so it's important to get it right," Jaime said.

Union Pacific will be paying for the damage caused by the accident, but as of now, they don't have an estimate on those numbers.

"It's a fluid situation," Jaime said.

City Manager Joyce Wilson said the city didn't incur any abnormal costs because of the derailment and won't need to be reimbursed by the railroad company.

Union Pacific explained that this is the first major train derailment in 10 years but all agencies responded quickly and efficiently.

Still, council members and Mayor Oscar Leeser said they were notified by the news media.

"My iPhone binged and told me there had been a derailment," Leeser said.

Going forward, the council said they would like to be alerted of such accidents that create a public disturbance.

"I think we need to be informed because people start calling us. And then we don't know what's going on. I-10 is really our lifeline. When you circumvent it like that, people are concerned," said City Rep Emma Acosta.

Railroad tracks also run remarkably close to the city's new downtown ballpark, but Union Pacific said they've worked with the city on the rail's proximity to the new stadium and feel confident in the layout.

Jaime said Union Pacific has been involved in the stadium project from the beginning, and there have been several feasibility studies that city officials feel confident in.

"We will look at safety and make sure all safety precautions are taken around the stadium," Leeser said.

TxDOT told city council they're installing a crash wall as part of the construction on I-10 and suggest travelers utilize the border highway for the duration of construction.



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