Oak Park confident in railroad bridges
Updated: September 3, 2012 12:45PM
OAK PARK — Local safety officials said they don’t believe a rail accident similar to the recent Glenview derailment and bridge collapse is likely here.
They main reason, local officals said, is that freight rail traffic on the east-west Union Pacific line moves slower it approaches or leaves Chicago.
River Forest Fire Chief Jim Eggert said the Union Pacific line operated at a lower speed than the long coal train that derailed and piled up more than 20 cars atop the Shermer Avenue bridge in Glenview, causing it to collapse.
CSX Corp., the other freight railroad to transit through Oak Park, runs on tracks located on the far south side of the Eisenhower Expressway ditch. That line, which transits River Forest and part of Forest Park, is “active” but unused since at least 2010, though weekly train car deliveries of sugar to the Ferrara Pan Candy are made from an west-bound train using CSX tracks connected to a siding west of Harlem Avenue.
Oak Park Village Engineer Jim Budrick said the safety of their bridge structures is the responsibility of Union Pacific.
“Their No. 1 thing is to make sure the (bridge structures) are supporting their facilities,” said Budrick. He said that approach is “pretty much the case, doing things required for their system.”
“A crew comes through and inspects all of the structures,” Budrick said.
Budrick is an eyewitness to inspection work on the Union Pacific tracks, because has a unique viewpoint. All he has to do is look out the window of his second floor office in the public works building on South Boulevard for an eye-level view of the train tracks.
“We see their (rail) trucks and equipment all the time,”
The railroad has been in Oak Park the last month or so working on vertical I-beam supports under the Scoville Avenue viaduct just south of the Ridgeland Common softball fields.
“Crews came through, inspected all of the structures and have been cutting out and replacing sections of steel,” he said.
Budrick said he’s never seen a problem related to bridge supports or rail beds — with the exception of the occasional semi-tractor trailer striking the bridge.
“Absolutely (not),” he said. “In 30-plus years I’ve been here, I haven’t seen an accident occur up there.”
Budrick and other village officials recently had a safety meting with Union Pacific and the CTA. The two entities are working on replacing “ballast” under the tracks and other repairs to the rail beds.
The railroad has cooperated with planning for upcoming repairs and upgrades to the viaducts at Marion Street and Ridgeland Avenue. That work, including cleaning, painting and new lighting, will be paid for in part with a state grant, Budrick said.
The railroad also replaced a section of wall adjacent to the Ridgeland Avenue Green Line station.