Main Street to Remain Closed as Derailment Investigation Continues
Officials say it will be "another few days" until traffic can return to Main Street.
A CSX representative was met with applause Tuesday night when he told a crowd filled with Main Street merchants that he expected most of the cars from a derailed freight train to be removed by 10 a.m. Wednesday.
At the meeting aimed at Ellicott City revitalization he did not say, however, when Frederick Road and Main Street would re-open to traffic.
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) told reporters to expect crews to be on scene for “another day or so” while the investigation into the train derailment continues.
“It is a slow process,” NTSB Lead Investigator Jim Southworth said at about 11 a.m. “But it is a very productive one.”
Southworth and reporters were on the scene near the intersection of Main Street and Maryland Avenue where, at 12:02 a.m. Tuesday morning, a CSX freight train carrying coal derailed in Ellicott City.
Elizabeth Conway Nass and Rose Mayr, both 19, of Ellicott City, died in the incident when the train passed behind them on the Main Street bridge, train cars tipped over and buried them in coal, according to police.
By 11 a.m. Wednesday, less than a dozen of the 80 train cars remained on the track, according to CSX spokesman Gary Sease. As part of the investigation, the tracks will be partially reconstructed in parking lot B, where seven or eight cars full of coal landed when they fell from the tracks.
The road remained closed from Old Columbia Pike in Ellicott City, east to the Baltimore County line, according to Howard County police.
“My biggest concern,” County Executive Ken Ulman said to the crowd, “Is getting this place open … I want this place open yesterday.”
Merchants and residents who have been financially impacted by the incident may be able to receive some financial relief from CSX, Sease said. “We have people who handle community support,” he said. “We’ll certainly make sure we make restitution."
Sease said that crews are “more and more confident” that all of the vehicles that were parked in the lot – many buried by coal -- had been removed. But there was still “one significant pile of coal,” he said.
The air brake was not manually applied on the train, Southworth, said, but an emergency brake was activated automatically.
NTSB and CSX officials would not speculate on a cause of the derailment, but said that they are focusing on all aspects of the incident, including interviewing the three-person crew that was on the train at the time of the derailment – a conductor, an engineer and an engineer-in-training, who was operating the train at the time of the derailment.