Traffic

Commuters: Stay away from I-5 after Amtrak derailment

Amtrak train derails off bridge onto I-5, deaths reported

Several cars from an Amtrak train plunged onto Interstate 5 near Tacoma, Washington, after it derailed on a railway bridge on Monday, December 18. Amtrak confirmed train 501 was involved in the incident in an tweet and officials from Washington St
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Several cars from an Amtrak train plunged onto Interstate 5 near Tacoma, Washington, after it derailed on a railway bridge on Monday, December 18. Amtrak confirmed train 501 was involved in the incident in an tweet and officials from Washington St

People needing to drive south from Tacoma after the Amtrak derailment face long detours.

But it is possible to get where you’re going.

One way recommended by state officials is to head out to Key Peninsula and travel south through Shelton.

One option for that route is to take state Route 16 to state Route 3 in Port Orchard and then continue to Shelton and U.S. 101.

You also can drive across the westbound Tacoma Narrows Bridge, stay on westbound state Route 16 to Purdy and exit to state Route 302. From there, cross the Purdy Spit, take state Route 302 to state Route 3 toward Shelton to U.S. 101 to Olympia.

 

The Washington State Patrol is working to detour some southbound drivers on Interstate 5 through Joint Base Lewis-McChord from Center Drive, said Doug Adamson, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. However, that route is not recommended for commercial vehicles, the State Patrol said.

The State Patrol is advising drivers to use exit 118 only. Drivers will then cross over Interstate 5 on Center Drive and enter JBLM. They will then turn right on Perimeter Road and be directed onto the detour route.

Initially, state officials said a good detour headed south would be to take state roads east of the crash area, such as state Route 7 or state Route 161 to drive to state Route 507 and then loop back West once past the crash zone.

But Adamson said those roads were stuffed with traffic about 1:15 p.m. State Route 512 headed into SR 7 was facing backups as well Monday afternoon.

Given all that, officials said, if you don’t absolutely need to head south, don’t do it.

“Our message is to stay away,” said Claudia Bingham Baker, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Department.

State officials said on Twitter that southbound I-5 will be shut down through Tuesday morning at Center Drive in DuPont, jettisoning traffic to smaller highways and city roads.

Drivers can use northbound I-5, although there was a backup in the afternoon near the crash because of “gawkers” slowing down to stare or to take photos, Adamson said.

Bingham Baker said she couldn’t predict how long it might take for Amtrak derailment to be cleared from the highway.

In an interview with media at the crash scene, Trooper Brooke Bova said it could take “a couple of days” for the investigation and cleanup of the derailment to be completed.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were at the crash scene Monday night, Bova said.

Mounts Road gate will not be open Tuesday morning for inbound traffic to JBLM, the State Patrol said Monday night.

Walker Orenstein: 360-786-1826, @walkerorenstein

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