Video: Bridges tend to collapse when trains run into them
posted at 11:30 am on May 26, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
A good pro-tip from CBS News on the second major bridge failure in the past week, this time in Missouri. However, this overpass was only 15 years old and rated in “good” condition — or at least it was, until the nation’s second train derailment in less than two weeks sent several cars barreling into its supports:
A Missouri highway overpass that partially collapsed when rail cars smashed into one of its support pillars after a cargo train collision was about 15 years old and in good condition but just couldn’t withstand the impact, a sheriff said. …
NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said while the investigations into both collapses are in the early stages “there is no similarity” between the Missouri accident and the bridge collapse in Washington, which sent two vehicles and three people falling into the chilly water.
He noted that the Missouri bridge was rated “good” after its last inspection in February.
“This was not because of any lack of integrity of the bridge in southeast Missouri, but because of a train that derailed and had a bunch of rail cars slamming around,” he said.
However, there may be something a little more unusual about that first derailment in Connecticut that injured 70 people. According to the Associated Press, the track in that section had just been repaired or maintained a month earlier, and an engineer now tells investigators that he spotted what they are calling an “unusual condition” on the tracks just before the derailment:
The engineer of the commuter train that derailed last week in Connecticut observed an “unusual condition” on the track before the wreck, federal officials said Friday without explaining what the condition was, though they did say repair work was done last month in the area of the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board has previously ruled out foul play but it has not yet determined a cause of the May 17 crash that injured more than 70 people and disrupted service for days on the railroad used by tens of thousands of commuters north of New York City.
But the NTSB did say Friday that a joint bar, used to hold two sections of rail together, had been cracked and repaired last month and that rail sections in the area of the derailment have been shipped to Washington for further examination. Adam Lisberg, an Metropolitan Transit Authority spokesman, said the joint bar was replaced.
Perhaps the repair was performed badly, an attorney representing a half-dozen of the victims speculates:
It’s not clear what caused the crash but repair work done in the area weeks before it may have weakened the track, George Cahill, an attorney representing six Metro-North workers injured in the crash, said this week. He also expressed concern that wheels on the new trains were too tight.
We’ll see. One lawsuit has already been filed on behalf of a woman still in critical condition from the derailment, and the MTA is inspecting all of its joint bars. That tends to speed investigations a bit.