Image: Idaho Transportation Department
According to the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), though crews are working to remove around 25 derailed rail cars from U.S. 95 about 10 miles north of Athol, both southbound lanes will remain closed for approximately two weeks.
Two-way traffic has been moved to the northbound lanes. ITD posted an aerial video of the scene and asked drivers to watch out for animals approaching the wreck to eat the corn spilled by the derailment.
Three locomotives were hauling 110 train cars from St. Cloud, Minn., to Kalama, Wash., when 25 cars went off the tracks, causing another five tipped onto their sides, early Monday morning, according to a statement made by BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas.
“We’re assessing the damage, but a large majority of them will be scrapped on site over the next three-week period,” Melonas told the Coeur d’Alene Press. He said cars would be shoved to the side to reopen that section of track, which sees 60 trains per day, including the Amtrak route that links Chicago to Seattle with stopovers in Sandpoint.
No injuries or hazardous conditions were reported. The cause of the accident is still under investigation. Melonas said that speed was not an issue in the crash.
Front-end loaders worked to scoop up massive mounds of spilled corn, and railroad track ballast rock also spilled onto the roadway, the Coeur d’Alene Press reported.
ITD engineers will be unable to determine the extent of roadway damage until the cleanup has been completed and an analysis can be performed.