Washington Mayor Predicted Problems with High-Speed Train Route Before Accident: Report

Holly Kellum
By Holly Kellum
December 20, 2017US News
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Washington Mayor Predicted Problems with High-Speed Train Route Before Accident: Report
Rescue personnel and equipment are seen at the scene where an Amtrak passenger train derailed on a bridge over Interstate highway I-5 in DuPont, Washington, on Dec. 18, 2017. (Reuters/Steve Dipaola/File Photo)

A Washington mayor fought against the rail line that carries high-speed passenger trains from Tacoma to Olympia, and predicted that because of safety issues with the route, fatalities were inevitable. On Monday, Dec. 18, his prediction came true when an Amtrak passenger train jumped the rails in DuPont, killing at least three and leaving 10 critically wounded.

Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson said he thought it was only a matter of time before someone was hurt, although likely for a different reason than what happened Monday.

“I didn’t predict a time, but I did say somebody is going to get killed,” he told the Seattle Times on Monday. “I hoped that wasn’t right.”

He said he was worried about the number of at-grade rail crossings along the train’s route, and that because the high-speed passenger train was being put on a little-used freight line instead of a new one, a lot of safety features that he thought should be in place were grandfathered out.

NTD Photo
Rescue personnel and equipment are seen at the scene where an Amtrak passenger train derailed on a bridge over Interstate highway I-5 in DuPont, Washington, on Dec. 18, 2017. (Reuters/Steve Dipaola/File Photo)

“The principal risk we identified was actually the number of crossings and the lack of familiarity people had in the area with trains,” he said. “We thought a train-vehicle collision was virtually inevitable.”

He said that if the line had been built from scratch, there likely would have been more tunnels and overpasses built to protect people at crossings.

NTD Photo
The scene where an Amtrak passenger train derailed on a bridge over interstate highway I-5 in DuPont, Washington, on Dec. 18, 2017. (Reuters/Steve Dipaola)

He also objected to the new line on monetary grounds, saying that for the number of people who use the high-speed passenger service, using taxpayer money for it was not justified.

The derailed Amtrak train – traveling at more than 80 miles per hour in a 30-mile-per-hour zone – met its tragic fate off a highway overpass on the I-5 highway at about 7:30 a.m. The train fell onto highway traffic, hitting five cars and two semi trucks.

There were 86 people on board, Amtrak reports, 10 of who were taken to the hospital in critical condition and another four with moderate injuries, according to the Washing State Patrol’s blog.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

NTD Photo
An Amtrak train seen hanging from a highway overpass in DuPont, Washington, on Dec. 18, 2017. (WSDOT/Twitter)
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