Railroad accident clearing delayed

The clearing of a section of railroad track where two Union Pacific trains derailed Wednesday has been delayed, officials said today.

Crews had initially hoped to have freight and passenger rail service restored by 7 a.m. today, but that has been pushed back to noon instead, James Barnes of Union Pacific said.

"This is a significant project," he said. "We're making great progress and we're working safely and efficiently, but we're now targeting for noon."

Gus Melonas of BNSF Railway said that one main line is expected to open by noon, while the second will open by about 1 p.m. today.

Two morning Amtrak trains were cancelled, but all midday and afternoon passenger services are expected to run per schedule, he said.

Freight trains that had been using alternate routes are also expected to resume on these tracks this afternoon.

The priority is to make the necessary repairs to the tracks so that services can be restored quickly, Barnes said.

Overnight, crews rerailed two locomotives as well as several railcars, Melonas said. Two locomotives remain and are expected to be rerailed and moved out of the area by the end of next week. It could take up to three weeks to clear out all debris from the derailment site.

For drivers, Old Pacific Highway at Kuhlman Road is still closed and won't be reopened until later Friday at the earliest, Thurston County road operations supervisor Lane McAllister said.

Because the actual site of the derailment is in Pierce County, crews in Thurston County are coordinating road reopenings with that of Pierce County so as not to hinder any repair work that is being done there, he said.

In Pierce County, Mounts Road is still closed as is access to Nisqually Road from the Interstate 5 exit at milepost 116, Don Wells from Pierce County Public Works said.

Crews are waiting for the remaining locomotives to be moved from the road before they can assess damages and make necessary repairs, he said.

At the very latest, those roads will reopen by the weekend, Wells said.