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Rotten Beam Caused Union Station Ceiling Collapse: Metra

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Metra said it was a rotten beam that gave way and came crashing down on a commuter between tracks five and seven at Union Station Tuesday. It sent one man to the hospital.

This comes just a few years after a structural engineer told CBS 2 Investigators that this was going to happen.

"I think it's tragic," Metra passenger Neil Steinberg said. "I think it's really a tragedy in the making."

Steinberg, a Sun-Times columnist, wasn't surprised to hear that a rotten beam, concrete, conduit and a lighting fixture came raining from the ceiling at Union Station.

Emergency crews transported a 39-year-old man in stable condition to a local hospital.

Steinberg wasn't surprised because just two years ago he witnessed it himself one track over. His wife was hit with falling rubble and another woman suffered a concussion.

"When people are being hurt on a regular basis – people who you've invited to use this service, use Metra, use Amtrak – I would say they have a moral responsibility if nothing else," Steinberg said.

These incidents came after CBS 2 Investigators exposed crumbling concrete and massive leaks at Union Station.

"We are very concerned, and we want to get to the root cause of what happened," said Bruce Marcheschi, Metra's chief operating officer.

But Metra doesn't know because even though it fell on their line, they don't own the ceiling in question. Amtrak runs that station but six different public and government entities have what's called "air rights."

Ivanhoe Cambridge owns the building.

In a statement a spokesman for the company said, "Our team is actively working with Amtrak and others to address the situation at Union Station and ensure passenger safety.  We would like to express our concern and well wishes to those affected by the incident."

 The statement went on to say that since 2017 the company has been in a multi-year project to conduct repairs above the tracks and continues to work with Amtrak, structural engineers and other contractors "to drive this important project to completion."

But members of the train engineer's union, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers said they're not interested in finger pointing.

The union's State Legislative Director said they want a fix for a long-standing issue that's putting engineers and passengers at risk.

"We just would like to see increased efforts into routine regular maintenance efforts and inspection efforts," Bob Guy said.

Metra said they are taking this seriously. They're meeting with all of the involved parties and a group of engineers to talk about the issues Thursday. That meeting is not open to the public.

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