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Workers Slowly Clear Amtrak Derailment Site

Tom Banse
Northwest News Network
Heavy lift cranes have removed the two Amtrak rail cars that were dangling over the lanes of southbound I-5 from a railroad overpass in DuPont, Washington.

Railroad contractors are making slow progress at the scene of Monday’s deadly derailment on Interstate 5, in Dupont, Washington. Three people were killed and more than 70 injured when an Amtrak train derailed on its inaugural run on a new route from Seattle to Portland.

Heavy lift cranes removed the two Amtrak rail cars that were dangling precariously over the lanes of southbound I-5 from a railroad overpass. They cars were then loaded on flatbed trucks.

Credit Google
This map shows the location of Monday's Amtrak train derailment.

The mangled cars were taken to a secure lot on nearby Joint Base Lewis McChord for further inspection. Another half-dozen flatbed trucks with trailers are lined up to haul away some of the remaining mangled train cars.

There are still seven more cars to clear including a locomotive crosswise on the freeway.

"Just to give you an idea of that locomotive, it weighs over 270,000 pounds. It takes two tractor-trailers to move it and the trailer itself is over 270 feet in length,” said Captain Dan Hall, who commands the Washington State Patrol in the area. “It is probably going to be wider than one lane, possibly into two lanes. It is going to take quite a feat to get that out of there."

Hall said there's still no estimate for when the southbound lanes of I-5 will reopen. It's possible the freeway will need repairs after all of the train wreckage is removed. All lanes of northbound of I-5 are open, but rubberneckers are slowing things down.  ?

Hall said everyone on the train and involved in chain reaction crashes on the freeway has been accounted for.

Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network
Northwest News Network
The rail cars that were dangling from a railroad overpass were loaded onto flatbed trucks.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.