An unexpected snag straight from a Looney Tunes cartoon has held up the renewed clearing of West Oakland's Wood Street encampment, as Caltrans reportedly managed to hit a moving Amtrak train while bagging and tagging unsheltered people’s tents and structures.
The clearing of the notorious, more-than-mile-long Wood Street encampment in West Oakland resumed in its next phase on Monday, according to KTVU, after a federal judge halted the clearing in July. “Monday marked phase two of the three-phase clearing process, displacing dozens more homeless [residents],” KTVU reported Monday afternoon. “Eviction notices were sent to 40 people, offering them services and assistance, according to Caltrans. But only 12 accepted alternative housing.”
But when the clearing continued Tuesday, well, things did not go as planned at all.
2:14 p.m. Caltrans has hit an Amtrak train going to San Jose while moving a shipping container at the Wood Street encampment. Since the start of this eviction, Caltrans has had no safety spotters directing traffic or moving objects with the crane. @Oakland @CaltransHQ pic.twitter.com/rP6uri0up8— Yesica Prado (@Prado_Reports) September 27, 2022
Neither Caltrans nor Amtrak has acknowledged this incident yet, but we sure have pictures being posted to social media to go on. “2:14 p.m. Caltrans has hit an Amtrak train going to San Jose while moving a shipping container at the Wood Street encampment,” says SF Public Press’s Yesica Prado in the tweet above. “Since the start of this eviction, Caltrans has had no safety spotters directing traffic or moving objects with the crane.”
Caltrans hired contractor Marinship to operate their heavy machinery at this encampment clean-up. But hiring contractors and subcontractors is a common work practice. pic.twitter.com/tv47MI6QCy— Yesica Prado (@Prado_Reports) September 27, 2022
A subsequent tweet indicates hastiness may have been an issue, and that the collision involved subcontractors from a company called Marinship. Most of the area covered by the Wood Street encampment belongs to Caltrans, though other parts belong to the City of Oakland and rail companies who use the tracks.
So CalTrans hit CalTrans while CalTrans was evicting someone without noticing the train screaming down the tracks.— Jared ( . ) (@Nerhitrogool) September 27, 2022
Saw it happen with my own eyes. pic.twitter.com/9o2h4VuMSs
But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, the clean-up is going great! KTVU adds that “Caltrans said it is on schedule to finish the clearing and fully close the encampment by the beginning of November.”
Though there was yet another fire at the Wood Street encampment early this morning, as seen in the KPIX video above. As KPIX explains, the fire started “at around 1 a.m. Tuesday” and burned “about 20 cars.” There is no indication who set the fire or why.
CalTrans evictions continue this morning. Rumor has it they're giving the community until next week to try to move the Cob houses rather than destroy them. pic.twitter.com/Yi3isU6Y0T— Caron (@caroncreighton) September 27, 2022
But the Amtrak train collision may make a difficult clear-out job even more difficult. There are currently no reported injuries, though not much detail either. It remains to be seen whether this incident, like various courtroom rulings before it, slows the timeline of the clearing of the Wood Street encampment.
Related: Oakland Audit Blasts Inability to Account for What Happened With $70 Million In Homeless Funding [SFist]
Image: @MikeOpera via Twitter