Ald. Ed Smith (28th Ward) is calling Union Pacific Railroad’s failure to repair its deteriorating track embankments running through the West Side “a total disgrace.”
Smith joined State Rep. Annazette Collins (10th District) Saturday at a morning press conference to criticize Union Pacific, the largest railroad company in the United States, for allowing its tracks in Austin and the West Side to deteriorate to its current condition.
“It’s disrespectful to this community to leave this thing looking the way it is,” said Smith, who held Saturday’s press conference at 2600 W. Jackson along a stretch of the railroad’s track and viaduct where cement is crumbling. “It’s horrible [and] a gross neglect. I would go so far as to say it’s a total discrimination [against] this community.”
Smith said his office has been trying to get Union Pacific to make repairs on the West Side since 2004.
Union Pacific’s rail system covers most central and western states, including Illinois. Chicago is one of its biggest, busiest hubs. Smith said the damaged railroads are an accident waiting to happen.
Rep. Collins said the railroad company called her office on Monday and promised to have repairs made to the tracks within 60 days. She said if Union Pacific doesn’t follow through, she would join Smith in filing a lawsuit against the company on behalf of the community.
“We’re prepared to do a lawsuit with the state,” said Collins. “They seem to only wait [until] something happens. So far, there’s been no accident. I’m just praying that no one gets hurt or the train doesn’t fall off the tracks or something.”