A disaster was narrowly averted on the narrowest part of Texas 114 this week after a semi truck hit the railroad bridge at Farm Road 156 around 4:30 Wednesday morning in Denton County.
The westbound truck, carrying a load of steel rebar, knocked the railroad bridge almost off the concrete ledge that holds up the track on the north side. The accident spilled rebar and shut down 114, the major east-west artery between Fort Worth and Dallas, with a big race weekend looming at Texas Motor Speedway.
Many Wise County residents also travel 114 commuting to the Metroplex for work.
The railroad track and bed were moved almost three feet west. Workers at the scene said the rail flexed, but did not separate, and a train going over the bridge shortly after the accident was able to clear it safely.
Traffic along 114 was diverted around the bridge while Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) crews mobilized cranes into the area to make repairs and move the track back into place. BNSF personnel, as well as Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) engineers and maintenance personnel, inspected the bridge to assess damages.
While they were at the scene, TxDOT engineers discovered that previous damage to the FM 156 bridge parallel to the railroad bridge was getting worse. That bridge, which had been hit, had apparently been hit again, and an additional crack prompted TxDOT to close down FM 156 for emergency repairs as well.
TxDOT spokesperson Michelle Releford said an emergency contract was issued on the FM 156 bridge, and welders were brought in to repair cracks in the steel beams.
Both of those bridges, along with 114, were reopened Thursday morning.