Today’s Pickup: I-5 closure could last days due to Amtrak derailment

Traffic is being rerouted after an Amtrak train derailment closed the southbound side of I-5 in Washington, just south of Tacoma.

Good day,

Travel around the DuPont area of Washington remains snarled this morning as officials work to clear wreckage from the Amtrak derailment over Interstate 5, just south of Tacoma, that killed at least 3 people and injured dozens more.

Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) officials are not saying how long the highway will be closed, but noted that all lanes of southbound I-5 are closed at Mounts Road near the Pierce-Thurston County line. Northbound traffic is moving through the area, but it is slowed, WDOT said.

The Seattle Times reports that heavy cranes have been brought in to remove the train engine and cars.

One of the detour routes is to use I-5 Center Drive, but the state police is advising commercial vehicles not to use that detour as it is not suitable for large trucks. WSDOT recommended the following detours:

  • Southbound I-5 traffic is being detoured at Center Drive. Traffic will drive through Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) to State Route 510.
  • Use State Route 16 to State Route 3. From there, use US 101 to get back to I-5 near Tumwater.

“We’re already seeing significant congestion on State Route 507 and State Route 7, and do not recommend motorists take State Route 302,” the agency said, noting that “northbound I-5 traffic is encouraged to stay on northbound I-5 and not exit at Center Drive.”

“Crews continue to work through the night on the train derailment, including investigating and planning for roadway clearing, which will begin once the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) authorizes removing the train cars,” WSDOT said in an update. “Our thoughts remain with the passengers and families affected by this crash and for the emergency responders from multiple agencies who are working tirelessly at the scene. WSDOT will reopen traffic on Southbound I-5 as soon as it is safe do to so.  All entities involved are working as quickly as they can, but we are anticipating that this work may take days, not hours.”

Heavy delays in and around the area are expected.

Did you know?

According to the latest data from CarrierLists, the three-week moving average of ELD compliance was at 74% as of Monday, with regional fleets still lagging at below 70% compliance.


“This is something that’s not going to be open again in a couple hours. It’s going to be quite an undertaking.”

Barbara LaBoe, WSDOT spokeswoman, on the I-5 closure

In other news:

East Coast ports growing faster than West Coast ports

Growth at West Coast ports is slowing while East Coast and Canadian ports are seeing increases as more Asian goods are flowing into those ports. (The Loadstar)

Fuso delivers first eCanters

Mitsubishi Fuso has delivered its first batch of eCanters electric trucks in Europe to Deutsche Post DHL for use in delivering appliances. (Prime Mover)

Trailer orders climb in November

Orders for new trailers were up 34% in November over October at 42,600 units and are now 19% higher year-over-year, FTR reported. (Fleet Owner)

AI will quicken pace of supply chain

The introduction of artificial intelligence in the supply chain will quicken the movement of goods, putting new pressures on supply chains. (CIO)

Canada publishes rule for ELD requirements

Just as the U.S. mandate for ELDs kicked in, Canada has started down the regulatory path to require them north of the border. (Transport Topics)

Final Thoughts

When the expansion of the Panama Canal was completed, it was expected to lead to more container traffic on the U.S. East Coast. That is happening, as new data says U.S. East Coast ports have grown 6.6% this year while West Coast ports are up only 1.4%. That is changing freight flows for trucking, and will lead to other institutional changes down the road.

Hammer down everyone!

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.