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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – City officials say the process of clearing a train derailment near Station Square is taking a little longer than expected.
Seven rail cars on a 7,600-foot-long Norfolk Southern double-stack intermodal train derailed Sunday afternoon.
Early Tuesday morning, workers pulled a container down the hillside below the tracks where they derailed. A full container car was pulled down the same hillside late Monday night.
Initially, officials expected the process to take about 72 hours. Now, city officials say that could change as there are three different plans on the table.
Watch Amy Wadas’s report —
“There’s a lot of consultation going on between the Port Authority, utility companies who have lines below the roadway and of course, Norfolk Southern, as well as Pittsburgh,” Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said.
No matter which option crews choose, there’s a risk to each one. It took more than six hours to remove one rail car.
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“This is a very fluid situation and there’s risk that’s why we have medic units and fire engines standing by,” Hissrich said.
“It’s a very difficult situation and as I learned just a few moments ago, it’s constantly changing. There isn’t one set way in order to be able to do this and as they approach each of the cars, there comes with it a different challenge from the other one. So, each of them will be evaluated one by one,” Mayor Bill Peduto said.
But, there was a close call Monday morning.
“A front-loader hit a power line that was thought to be de-energized, but it turned out to be energized. So, we’ve taken necessary precautions to ensure that will not happen again,” Hissrich said.
Peduto toured the area Monday afternoon and while the derailment caused quite a mess, the good news is no one was injured.
“We’re blessed, we dodged a bullet on this one. This could have been a catastrophe. Instead, we don’t even have an injury and we just want to make sure that over the next 48 hours we continue to have no injuries,” he said.
Watch Ross Guidotti’s report —
Norfolk Southern said as of 6 p.m. Monday, all but two rail cars and about a dozen containers had been cleared from the mainline track.
Officials hope to have the remaining cars and containers cleared in 24 to 36 hours. Most of the cars and containers will be loaded onto tractor trailers or flatbed trucks and removed.
“The steep slope and tight operating space where the derailment occurred have present challenges to the cleanup. The safety of the work crews is top priority, and work has progressed slowly and deliberately,” Norfolk Southern said in a statement.
The cause of the derailment has not yet been determined. Norfolk Southern says derailment investigations can take weeks or months.
Norfolk Southern says track maintenance-of-way personnel inspected the section of the track where the rail cars derailed on Friday, Aug. 3, and Saturday, Aug. 4.
Norfolk Southern will also help the Port Authority clear the light rail tracks of derailment debris and resume operations at the Station Square station as soon as possible.
The Smithfield Street Bridge will remain closed to traffic. However, pedestrians can still use the bridge.
West Carson Street is closed from Arlington Avenue all the way down to the Fort Pitt Bridge.
Officials urge both bicyclists and pedestrians to avoid the area.