Trains, Planes and Automobiles

Everyone who comes to the Permian Basin declares, “Drivers are crazy here!” They are right. I drove a compact car for a couple days recently, and it was scary. But as my husband says, “That ain’t the half of it.”

One morning not long ago, I learned that a B-1B bomber made an emergency landing at Midland Int’l Air & Spaceport yesterday afternoon. There have been several small plane crashes in Texas this year, plus the Southwest Airlines dramas, and now this. I shouldn’t be surprised, as we often get flyovers of helicopters, transports and bombers from Dyess AFB going to El Paso and the bases there. But this was a little disconcerting.

Then there are the three train derailments within 2 weeks, two of them in one day. The first was in Monahans, TX on April 18, 2018. A regular cross-country cargo train, probably traveling close to 85 mph, hit the back end of a train that was on a spur line to a yard — and wasn’t quite off the main line. The crew of the mainline train had to be cut out of their engine. The other train was unmanned. Reports aren’t clear if the yard train had already derailed and that was why it wasn’t clear, or if someone was just stupid. Somewhere around 45 cars were involved in that. My husband and I drove by there the following Sunday, and it was a huge mess. We saw a new mobile home with a freight car that could become an addition with a twelve foot connector.

On May 1st,, a bunch of sand cars on a siding track derailed, some tipping over, all right next to I-20 Business in Midland. Then, at 6pm, a train hit a water truck that was on the tracks in Ward County near Barstow. Four engines and 25-30 rail cars derailed, but no injuries have been reported. No explanation why the truck was on the tracks. These mainline and trains are Union Pacific.

Finally, a combination of reports came out around the same time about vehicle fatalities. Some law firm used Texas drunk driving accident reports to show Odessa to have the highest fatality rate (involving drunk drivers) per 100,000, with Midland in 2nd place. Meanwhile, in Ector County (so not including the city of Odessa) there were 3 fatalities over the weekend in 3 different accidents. The city had a couple. There go the insurance rates.

Maybe I need to reconsider my next vehicle

We see stupid/weird/crazy things all the time on the roads. The #1 reason for the most recent crashes? Running a stop sign or STOPPING AND DRIVING INTO THE CROSS TRAFFIC. Hello? Are Basin drivers trying to bring back the Darwin Awards by themselves? Granted, the official addresses for those identified aren’t all from around here, but that means little. The boom draws folks from everywhere. Guess I have a reason to be paranoid.

UPDATE: The spur track was damaged and the first train was derailed. Apparently there wasn’t time to notify the second crew. As of May 20, they were still clearing the mess. Once the cargos were offloaded, they had to dismantle the cars piece by piece. Yep, that bad.

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