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After CTA train derails, steel rail fasteners rain down on Loop streets

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Updated: July 19, 2014 6:36AM



First, the beers on the bar at the Sky Ride Tap began to rattle.

Patrons thought it was more than the regular turbulence from the elevated CTA track that runs past the bar, 105 W. Van Buren St., so when the whole building seemed to briefly shake, several people stepped outside to investigate.

What they saw Tuesday night shocked them: Hundreds of pieces of steel, some weighing several pounds, had fallen off the elevated structure. The metal, mixed with splintered pieces of wood, littered Van Buren for several blocks in each direction.

“They are rail fasteners,” CTA spokesman Brian Steele said. “They hold the rails to the brackets that are attached to the rail ties.”

Steele said a set of wheels on an Orange Line train came off the tracks at the LaSalle/Van Buren stop that serves Orange, Pink and Brown Line trains.

It was not clear if the metal pieces fell because of damage from the derailment or if it had been left up there after previous construction, Steele said.

The incident happened shortly before 7 p.m., halting all trains in the Loop for about an hour. There were no reports of any injuries — either on a train or on the ground, Steele said; nor did the CTA receive any reports of property damage, he added.

“We are going to be doing overnight repairs to a portion of the track,” said Steele. “We anticipate normal service before Wednesday morning rush.”

“Thank God rush hour had died down and there were no people or cars on the street,” said Lenny Pomerantz, a 72-year-old financial trader who was inside the Sky Ride Tap when the train derailed.

In the minutes after the accident, people called 911, but cars were still driving under the tracks and trains were still passing over them, said Kevin Donegan, 34, who also works as a financial trader. “We watched a fire truck and cop car drive by and when people did finally show up, they started cleaning up the pieces of metal before anyone even closed the street.”

Email: mdudek@suntimes.com

Twitter: @mitchdudek



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