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Crumbling railroad bridge in Oroville has residents worried

"See where the ties are coming apart in some places? This is a really bad section right here," said Norwood as he shows me one loose spike after another.

Posted: Feb 19, 2018 5:55 PM
Updated: Feb 21, 2018 9:38 AM

"I fear that someday that's just going to crumble away, it could be one day when a train comes by with toxic chemicals in it!" said Gary Norwood, a concerned Oroville resident.

Take a drive south on Myers Street, past High Street and you'll see what oroville resident Gary Norwood's so worried about - a crumbling railroad bridge with a shoddy-looking patch job.

Really it's just bags of concrete mix filling in the spaces where the area's eroded. In a letter, the Union Pacific Railroad company says this isn't the ideal situation, but it's all they have the funds to do right now.

"For any corporation as large as Union Pacific to say, they don't have the money? I have to call B.S. on that. They have new projects they're putting new rails in in places, they have money or they wouldn't be doing that. We have to hold them accountable and hold them accountable for the safety of the Oroville community," said Norwood.

And the bridge wing is not the only spot that seems out of repair.

"See where the ties are coming apart in some places? This is a really bad section right here," said Norwood as he shows me one loose spike after another.

When city leaders demanded answers, the railroad company said trespassers caused the erosion - and they didn't give a timeline for fixing the wall.

When I demanded answers?

"If it's not safe, we're not running trains over it. We have highly specialized bridge teams that inspect these things regularly ... they check for anything that would compromise the structural integrity of the bridge. At the end of the day, safety is the top priority for Union Pacific" said Justin Jacobs, Pacific Railroad Media Relations Spokesperson.

Of course, this all hits a little too close to home in the city that just survived a catastrophic infrastructure failure with last year's spillway crisis.

"It was unidentified, not taken care of and it broke. Kind of the same situation here," said Norwood. "Union Pacific, they're the largest rail company in America - it's privately held, and the stockholders need to be held accountable for it," said Norwood.

"I believe there is action to be had - Union Pacific is one of the largest railroads in the US, they have liability and they should step up and make sure it's done correctly and fixed," said Butte County Supervisor Bill Connely.

Connelly says this is also a federal issue, and encourages community member to call the federal transportation board, their local congressman and federal senators to make sure this section of failing infrastructure is repaired - before it's too late.

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