Union Pacific and city crews responded to a report of rail damage at the Keokuk Street railroad crossing at 1 p.m. on Thursday. What they found when they got there concerned the officials.
According to witnesses, an eastbound double trailer carrying a wind turbine base supported between two flatbeds did not clear the tracks. When reaching the slight incline of the tracks, the leading flange from the turbine base scrapped the asphalt approaching the tracks and then, catching one of the rails, came to a jarring halt, bending and twisting the rail.
The eyewitnesses stated that the convoy of two lead trucks, the trailer and rear vehicles all stopped. A couple of men got out, one looked under the turbine, one man hydraulically raised the load; then they got back into the truck and drove off the tracks. They then stopped for a few more minutes before driving away.
One of those eyewitnesses, concerned that approximately four feet of the rail showed a marked twist, called in to 911 to alert authorities of the possible danger.
Tracy Jackson, streets and alleys superintendent, and Mark Mathon, city engineer, were at the crossing all afternoon.
According to the officials, a Union Pacific crew on hand at the crossing was waiting for a northbound evening passenger train to pass through Lincoln before attempting any repairs. All trains were being walked through the damaged area at 3 mph until the repairs could be made.
Jackson said the crew hoped to be able to reset the rail into the ground without having to replace it. He added that if the rail needs to be replaced, that will take some time as the special truck that carries such rails would have to be brought in from either St. Louis or Chicago.
Ironically, the crossing is scheduled to be completely reworked in the next few months.
The 5:30 p.m. northbound passenger train came through the crossing at only 3 mph as Union Pacific crewmen kept on eye on the train and the track. Fortunately the train was able to get through the crossing with no problems, and the repair crew began working on the rail.
By the time the 8:30 p.m. southbound Amtrak came through, the crew had finished. This morning there are no flagmen on the scene.
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