All lanes of I-5 South reopen after Amtrak train derailment

KOMO photo

DUPONT, Wash. - All three southbound lanes of I-5 reopened Wednesday, two days after a deadly Amtrak derailment closed them.

Crews have been working around the clock to clear the wreckage from southbound Interstate 5 at the site of Monday's deadly Amtrak derailment.

All of the passenger cars from the derailed train were removed from the tracks and the railroad overpass over I-5 by early Wednesday. Then came the biggest challenge - moving the 270,000-pound locomotive that hurtled down an embankment straight into I-5 traffic, then came to a rest on the pavement.

The locomotive was lifted early Wednesday onto a specially strengthened lowboy trailer, and crews began moving it away from the crash site at 9 a.m. using two semi tractors - one in front and one in back of the 48-wheel trailer. From there it is being taken to a secure site inside Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Once the locomotive was out of the way, crews began getting a better idea of some of the damage it did to the freeway. Crews also are replacing at least 150 feet of guardrail along I-5 that was wiped out in the derailment.

Engineers have inspected the rail bridge that spans the freeway and deemed it structurally sound, with only minor repairs needed.

Maintenance crews have pre-staged supplies and equipment to begin repairs on the guardrail and damaged portions of the freeway as soon as they have been cleared to do so.

Train 501 was headed from Seattle to Portland Monday morning, when it plunged off the overpass onto I-5 Monday morning. Three people were killed, dozens of others were injured.

Federal investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are now trying to determine what caused the crash.

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