Crews have begun working to remove the Amtrak train that derailed Monday near DuPont, but transportation officials say the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 could be potentially be closed for “several days.”
Spokespeople for the Washington State Patrol and WSDOT held a press conference Tuesday in which they detailed the intensive process of removing the 14 railcars, one by one, each of which presents its own unique challenge.
“I do want to stress – this does not mean I-5 will reopen tonight,” WSDOT’s Travis Phelps said. “It still could be closed for several days.”
Trooper Will Finn said the road will be closed “at minimum” through Wednesday morning’s commute.
Making things more difficult is the onslaught of wind and rain in the area, which is making crews “miserable” as they work to quickly and safely complete the job.
Heavy equipment is already on site, and crews will load them onto flatbed trailers and haul them north on the southbound lanes of I-5 to Steilacoom-DuPont Road, then brought to a secure location at Joint Base Lewis-McChord as the National Transportation Safety Board continues its investigation.
The most difficult part of the operation will come Tuesday afternoon when the locomotive will be loaded onto a “lowboy” trailer and hauled by two semi-trucks.
“Each one of them, these cars have a unique challenge to them, and the biggest care we have right now is to our on-scene responders, to make sure they’re safe,” WSP Capt. Dan Hall said.
Crews will try to re-open the road before all the cars are removed, but it would likely be difficult to do so because of the weight and length of the cars.