Closure of I-5 to continue as damaged rail cars are removed
Southbound Interstate 5 will be closed through at least the Wednesday morning commute in the area around the deadly train derailment near DuPont.
“I want to stress that I-5 still could be closed for several days,” Travis Phelps, a state Department of Transportation spokesman, said.
Alternate routes are also backed up.
Traffic extended 16 miles on southbound state Route 507 into Yelm Tuesday morning. The State Patrol recommended drivers take state Route 16 to state Route 3.
“All these routes are going to be jam-packed,” Phelps said. “None of these routes can handle the capacity of I-5.”
Officials said some 60,000 drivers use that stretch of I-5 daily.
Another recommended route includes Route 512 east to Route 7 south.
The Mounts Road gate at Joint Base Lewis-McChord remained closed to inbound traffic Tuesday morning and drivers were asked to use other gates. Only local residents are able to use the detour onto Center Drive through JBLM.
“Everyone should avoid traveling I-5, and WSDOT is working to open alternative routes through the area during emergency response,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement.
Crews are working to clear the scene at Mounts Road of wreckage, but it is a tedious process slowed by the rain.
Five of 14 rail cars from Train 501 were lifted by cranes onto a flatbed truck Tuesday morning and moved to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where they will be stored during the investigation.
Officials plan to move one of the two locomotives this afternoon, but are still working out the logistics.
The locomotive weighs 270,000 pounds, stretches more than 27 feet and will require two flatbed trucks to be moved.
“It’s going to take quite a feat to get that out of here,” said State Patrol Capt. Dan Hall.
As the train cars are moved from the scene to JBLM, they will be driven northbound in the already closed southbound lanes of I-5 and onto DuPont-Steilacoom Road.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653