The collision between a freight train and a tractor trailer caused an explosion that was heard across Buffalo yesterday, and it should set off alarms about the lack of safety associated with rail transport and its intersection with the public. The accident took place on Ganson Street near Michigan Avenue, adjacent to an increasingly popular bike and pedestrian route that goes from the Cobblestone District to the Outer Harbor. With the imminent formal opening of the overhauled Ohio Street, more and more people are using this once industrial corridor to access what is becoming a popular district for Buffalo’s development community. and to seek the beauty and recreation of our new inner and outer harbor areas. The accident highlights how easy it can be to have a train disaster in an urban area.
In these times of increasing transportation of crude oil by rail, commonly known as “bomb trains,” we risk the possibility of having a significant disaster in our downtown or adjacent areas similar to the July 2013 derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. In the past few months the use and occurance of these bomb trains has increased significantly, with at leat four bomb trains coming through Buffalo every day, some with 100 full and volatile tanker cars.
We wrote about this just last month: “Riverkeeper and Buffalo’s Bomb Trains.”