Cotton bridge at I-10 will take 2 more weeks to fix

Derailment repairs begin on I-10

EL PASO, Texas - ABC-7 has found out how long it's going to take to fix the Cotton Street bridge that was hit by a derailed train, how much it's going to cost and what's being done to keep it from happening again.

The derailment happened Friday night underneath Interstate 10 at Cotton. Two westbound lanes on I-10 remain closed. Two westbound lanes on Missouri between Willow and Eucalyptus are also closed, as well the right lane between Walnut and Willow.

According to Texas Department of Transportation officials, the work will begin at midnight Saturday and take more than two weeks to complete at a cost of $1.3 million.

As the trains continue to roll through the area, traffic slows on a narrowed I-10 and inches through the Central El Paso neighborhood where the train car took out a support pillar underneath I-10.

"I-10 will remain as it is now," TXDOT spokeswoman Blanca Del Valle said. "The contract is for 15 days."

Del valle said it's going to take some to rebuild the bridge support, which has been replaced temporarily by two steel beam structures.

"We have to bring traffic from out of town, the contract is from out of town," she said. "We're talking about reconstructing a column and that does take time."

TXDOT officials said the fix includes installing crash barriers, six-foot high walls to protect the bridge pillars that hopefully will ensure nothing like that ever happens again

"It could have been worse," Del Valle said. "But I understand the train was going quite slow."

That wasn't the case back in may when a Union Pacific train in the state of Missouri took out a freeway support pillar, causing the freeway to collapse. Seven people were injured and the freeway took months to repair.

"We ask 15 days," Del Valle said. "They're going to be working 24-7."

Regardless, those who work in the area will have to deal with the situation another two weeks.

"It's caused us some delays getting in and out of the facility, but we've been able to manage," said Bernardino Olague, vice president of Licon Enterprises, a consulting firm located on the corner of Missouri and Willow, where traffic has been backed up all week. "We need to make sure we have the mechanisms in place to account for the time. In the mornings, it's still bad. It adds an additional five to 10 minutes, but we have to learn to cope with it."

TXDOT will pay the $1.3 million for repairs up front with the agreement that they will be reimbursed by Union Pacific. UP officials said the accident is still under investigation.

TXDOT officials said they don't expect to have to close I-10 again until the work is completed, in order to remove the concrete barriers that have been put in place on the freeway. They will likely do that overnight, Del Valle said, so they can minimize the inconvenience.

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