By David Kapitan
More than a week after a Union Pacific train and a disabled tractor-trailer collision sparked numerous explosions near the downtown Wills Point area, cleanup and repair projects are still under way.
On Thursday, August 23, a tanker truck full of fuel, driven by Charles Cecil Smith of Sulphur Springs, became disabled across the Lybrand railroad crossing.
At approximately 1:15 a.m., minutes after the truck became stuck on the tracks, an eastbound train pulling 101 cars and carrying “mixed freight,” swept through the city on a collision course.
The collision between the train and tanker truck triggered a series of four or five explosions that rocked houses in the area and triggered fire departments and other emergency services throughout the county to respond.
No one at the scene, including the conductor and engineer aboard the train, the driver of the truck, or any other people in the area, suffered injuries.
During the cleanup process, Raquel Espinoza, director of corporate relations and media for UP, stated, “Right now, we are supporting the efforts of the fire department. Once all the fires have been addressed, we’ll assess the damage.”
On Tuesday, Espinoza offered an update on the incident and work being done in the area. Espinoza stated, “Right now, only one of the crew members on the train, the engineer, has returned to work. As far as damage, we had to replace a track panel and the rock ballast. We’re still assessing the locomotives that were involved.”
The Lybrand crossing, which has remained closed to traffic since the incident, will remain so indefinitely.
Espinoza also went on to address the issue of railroad siding, which refers to a stretch of track used to allow trains on the same line to pass one another, that has frustrated many city officials and drivers passing through the downtown area.
Espinoza stated, “we (UP) are hopeful we can complete a siding project outside of the Wills Point area by the end of the year.”
Cleanup Continues At Lybrand Crossing
By David Kapitan