“Sounding the alarm on rail safety:” Watertown gets back on track after train derailment

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WATERTOWN -- On the right track -- that's how Watertown's mayor describes his community days after an oil train derails. It's also how he describes Senator Tammy Baldwin who visited on Friday, November 13th to meet with city leaders and railroad officials about what needs to be done going forward.

Watertown

Watertown

Baldwin spent time looking at the progress -- Canadian Pacific Railways says the cause of the derailment was a broken rail that somehow went undetected.

This derailment was one of two in Wisconsin in one weekend.

Even though people living in Watertown are used to trains rolling through, they're not used to the current speed or lack thereof.

The oil trains went from 50 m.p.h. to about 15 m.p.h., after one derailed and spilled 500 gallons of product on Sunday, November 8th. The derailment caused 35 nearby homes to be evacuated and shut down the neighborhood.

Watertown derailment

Watertown derailment

"I think things are improving," said Watertown Mayor John David.

The mayor has been meeting with Canadian Pacific Railway almost every day.

"Definitely our relationship with them has improved," said Mayor David.

Friday, Senator Tammy Baldwin joined the group.

Tammy Baldwin

Tammy Baldwin

"I have been sounding the alarm on rail safety for a couple of years now," said Baldwin.

Baldwin says now it's more important than ever to work on enhancing that.

"I'm hearing from numerous public officials concerns about the infrastructure and the integrity of that infrastructure -- particularly rail bridges," said Baldwin.

That was our initial issue, if you will. We were like, if there's nothing wrong with the bridge just show us, so they showed us," said David.

Watertown derailment

Watertown derailment

The mayor says he is hopeful that transparency will continue.

"People who live here see these trains go through here every day. They need to know in the local state and national level we are doing everything we can to maintain safety and I'm here to say there's been some positive steps but there's a lot more we can do," said Baldwin.

The spilled oil has since been removed and no air or water was contaminated. Canadian Pacific officials say the broken rail is being sent to a test laboratory to take a closer look at it -- and that could take a couple of months.

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