Torrential rains damage NM train tracks

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The rainfall this month has been too much for parts of the state. It’s ripped apart roads and left a piece of crucial railroad track suspended mid-air in eastern New Mexico.

Rain totals for this month have already surpassed the normal rainfall and there are still a couple days to go. Sky News 13 video from Wednesday afternoon over Bull Canyon Creek shows just how bad the rains have damaged some areas around the state.

Parts of New Mexico’s dry landscape couldn’t handle all of this rain. A Union Pacific train track along I-40 was ripped apart near Montoya between Santa Rosa and Tucumcari.

Officials say 10 to 20 trains typically travel on the corrdior every day carrying assembled cars, paper, steel minerals, apparel, footwear and smartphones.

Flood waters washed away part of the dirt and ballast supporting the tracks, leaving the railroad tracks and ties dangling. It also brought down heavy pieces of stone and rocks.

Aerials show big track hoes moving mud, and crews on scene working to repair the damage.

Part of Highway 156 east of Santa Rosa was closed Tuesday due to flooding. Rain there ripped apart asphalt, and loosened a culvert.

Wednesday, Sky News 13 video showed new asphalt has been laid, as the old road sits right next to it in the grass.

Rain totals for this month are already more than normal in the metro with more than three inches and counting, and it hasn’t all been good.

In just five hours early Tuesday, more than seven inches were reported southeast of Newkirk, causing flooding there.

“Some storms just repeatedly moved over the same area, they were very slow moving storms and there’s a couple different storms in the atmosphere kind of conglomerated or came together right at that bad point, and unfortunately just produced way too much rainfall for such a short time,” explained Todd Shoemake, Meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

It’s a sentiment shared around the state. “It wasn’t even that long of a rain storm, and within 5 minutes, I looked out and my place was flooded,” Sharon Lavery of Algodones told News 13 in a previous interview.

People in Algodones are facing floodwaters once again. Crews have helped divert water away from homes.

Further northeast, video from a viewer in La Cienega sent a photo to News 13 showing an overflowing arroyo blocking a road near homes. The road is now impassable.

The New Mexico Department of Transportation said they’re working around the clock to try and keep water off roads.

Railroad Track Damaged

A crucial piece of railroad track near Santa Rosa now looks like something out of a movie set after water washed away the dirt beneath it, leaving it suspended in mid-air.

The railroad wash out happened near Montoya, between Santa Rosa and Tucumcari.

Video from Sky News 13 shows that in the last couple days, water washed away the dirt and rock berm underneath a large stretch of track, leaving it hanging over what appears to be at least a 40-foot deep pit.

Water also damaged the supports that hold up a nearby bridge.

Union Pacific’s track safety monitors found it Tuesday morning before any trains crossed it.

The damaged piece of track runs along a main route from El Paso through Eastern New Mexico up to Kansas City. Union Pacific says it carries about 9,000 rail cars each year.

Union Pacific says no trains were near the stretch of track when it washed away, but it’s unclear how many trains have been halted or delayed because of the damage.

The rail company says its now working on filling the massive hole with new fill dirt. Crews hope to have that job complete in the next two to three days. However, it’s unclear if trains will be able to use the track once that’s complete.

The Santa Rosa area has been hammered with rain in the last week. In that area alone, there has been between 5 and 7 inches of rain in the past week. That’s double what they usually get in the entire month of July.

NMDOT officials told News 13 crews are working around the clock to unplug culverts and keep water off the roads. Officials said this is a major problem along the US 285 corridor outside Santa Fe.

They’ve also rented another vacuum to assist in the cleanup. NMDOT officials repaired an erosion along US 84/285 north of Española Wednesday and brought in more dirt to reshape the embankment.

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