May 12, 2014
As residents watched in horror, the side of 26th Street in north Baltimore collapsed, carrying eight cars and tons of dirt onto the CSX rail tracks below. Luckily no one was hurt.
Residents of the block were told to evacuate their homes for up to 40 days, to give engineers time to check the safety of their homes. But nothing says these homes will be safe to occupy in 40 days.
Torrential rains had put heavy pressure on the retaining wall that overlooks the CSX railroad tracks. This wall was originally built in 1912 as part of the rail system carrying freight through Baltimore. It was partially repaired in 1998, but residents have been complaining to the city and the railroad about the crumbling of the road and the danger it presented for the past few years.
The city has now hired contractors to put in pilings to stabilize the street before rebuilding the retaining wall. CSX, the current rail owners, is not hurrying to accept responsibility.
But one thing the rail system was quick to do: within days CSX had cleared the track of cars and dirt so that freight – and revenues – could roll again.
Baltimore is not alone in facing this infrastructure problem. Storms are increasing and rail tracks go through the older parts of many cities. It’s another example of a capitalist society in which resources are used to enrich the capitalists, not to assist the population.