A northbound train struck a yogurt-container laden tractor-trailer that had stopped on the tracks at Cortaro Farms Road and Interstate 10 on Saturday, Jan. 9.
No one was hurt in the accident, but clean up efforts caused a nearly six-hour closure of the Cortaro Farms railroad crossing. The truck was hauling Dannon-brand yogurt containers to a factory in California where they were destined for filling with various dairy products.
"This accident stands as a reminder that we all need to be very mindful of where these train crossings are," said Adam Goldberg, spokesman for Northwest Fire District.
Goldberg said the tractor-trailer was stuck in a traffic jam that resulted from earlier accidents on the westbound lanes of I-10.
The trouble along the interstate began at 5 a.m. on Saturday when a truck hauling paint overturned causing the closure of westbound lanes north of Cortaro Farms.
In the ensuing backup, a two-car accident occurred that resulted in five-people being transported to the hospital, Goldberg said.
"When you shut down that freeway, you're destined for more accidents," Goldberg said.
Police began diverting traffic to the frontage roads while fire officials cleaned diesel fuel and paint spilled on the highway.
The train involved in the accident was not hauling any hazardous material and did not derail in the collision.
"No evacuations were needed," Goldberg said.
Had the train been carrying hazardous material, evacuation efforts would have been required, Goldberg said.
That would have likely made an already difficult situation potentially disastrous, Goldberg commented.
With the interstate closed and frontage and surface streets experiencing backups, vacating the nearby businesses would have created a challenge for emergency workers, Goldberg said.
Cleanup crews spent at least 12 hours removing yogurt cups from the train tracks and roadway. Debris was spread as far as a quarter mile down the tracks.