Colliding trains damage Jefferson bridge, neighbors felt home sh - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Colliding trains damage Jefferson bridge, neighbors felt home shaking

A derailed train takes out a support pillar of an overpass. Photo by Jamey Boyum KLTV. A derailed train takes out a support pillar of an overpass. Photo by Jamey Boyum KLTV.
JEFFERSON, TX (KLTV) -

A collision between two trains shut down a major highway in East Texas on Friday.

It happened at the railroad overpass on Highway 59 in Jefferson just before 11 a.m. Officials say since the bridge was damaged it will be shut down until it can be evaluated by TxDOT engineers.

Ana Spencer and her mother Gaby Renteria were in their house about a hundred yards from the collision, in the shadow of the Highway 59 overpass.

“The train was coming and the other one just stopped and 'Boom!' Oh, my God, it’s crazy,” Renteria said.

Her daughter had just moved back from California.

“It’s funny because we just got through an earthquake down there, and it felt just like that. I mean usually the house shakes when the train comes and I’m sure other houses shake, but this was different because it was a big boom and more of a shaking,” Spencer recalled.

According to Union Pacific, one of their trains was coming around a corner under the bridge and several Kansas City Southern train cars traveled down a crossing track and collided with the Union Pacific train.

Jefferson Police and DPS rerouted traffic. Marcus Sandifer with TXDOT said he drove across the bridge a few minutes before it happened, although he didn’t witness it.

“One of the trains was knocked off the rails and knocked out one of the columns underneath the bridge that goes over the railroad track,” Sandifer said.

Stacked intermodal containers, used for multi-purpose transport, were jammed under the bridge.

“We’re having people come in from Austin to check the bridge out to determine how safe it is,” Sandifer said.

He said the bridge shows little damage above, but it’s a pillar short beneath. 

Residents who heard it won’t forget it soon.

“...it was unusual. That doesn’t happen here,” Spencer added.

There were no injuries and none of the thirteen derailed cars contained harmful materials.

Union Pacific is investigating the wreck, and TxDOT says the overpass could be closed for days or weeks until evaluations and repairs can be completed.

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