DENVER (KDVR) — Railway safety in Colorado is being questioned after a semi-trailer truck driver was killed in a train derailment and bridge collapse over Interstate 25 just north of Pueblo.

It caused a major scene with spilled coal and mangled rail cars on the roadways for over 24 hours. This massive pileup presented a larger issue within the state’s rail system and its overall safety.

It’s unclear whether the train derailed first or if the bridge collapse caused the crash, but whatever the cause, Colorado lawmakers say something must be done.

Colorado state Sen. Nick Hinrichsen, D-Pueblo, first heard about the massive scene while traveling down the very interstate where the train derailed and the bridge collapsed Sunday afternoon as he headed home from Fort Collins with his son.

Train length limits proposed

He’s already on the Transportation Legislative Review Committee, or TLRC, which voted earlier this month to approve legislation for the upcoming session to address rail system safety.

The proposals include limiting train length, which Hinrichsen said has been changing within the industry.

“The bigger the train, the more tonnage of cargo, the longer the span, the more you’re opening up to issues, the more time you have grades or spans that have continuous pressure on them. So you have 2 miles of train rather than a mile of train crossing that bridge,” Hinrichsen said.

The legislators also plan on increasing safety inspections, which would include detectors to identify train defects.

“Colorado has fortunately been able to avoid a large impact, and we’re not avoiding that anymore. And I think we need to realize that and we need to take that seriously, as we have to make adjustments and we have to get real safety right going forward,” Hinrichson said.

Crews work to clean up the wreckage of a train derailment and bridge collapse near Pueblo, Colorado on Oct. 16, 2023. (KDVR)
Crews work to clean up the wreckage of a train derailment and bridge collapse near Pueblo, Colorado on Oct. 16, 2023. (KDVR)

Polis on rail safety rules

FOX31 asked Gov. Jared Polis’ office if he’d support more rail regulation. They said the governor will review and comment on specific legislation through the legislative process when the state house is back in session.

The governor also pointed out that Colorado has gotten more than $4 billion from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. That money could help repair rails and bridges across the state.

“Our administration has been working for months to position Colorado to take advantage of the safety and rail investments that Congress and President Biden made possible through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” Polis said. “Sadly, those improvements come too late to prevent this incident, but it’s clear that federal funds for rail support are critical for Colorado.”