Highway reopened after train derailment 

Single lane alternating traffic still in effect between Whistler and Pemberton

click to enlarge SUBMITTED BY MEL L'HEUREUX
  • Submitted by Mel L'heureux

The highway between Whistler and Pemberton was closed for over two hours as a result of a train derailment just south of Suicide Hill. Three empty wood pellet cars went off the tracks, including one tanker car that toppled off the overpass to cover both lanes of the highway.

Pique contacted CN Rail to get an update, but they could not provide an estimate as to when the highway will completely reopen. The incident occurred at roughly 1:50 p.m. and the highway reopened to single lane alternating traffic at 3:45 p.m. Both lanes likely won't be available until the morning of Jan. 4, and drivers are advised to plan for delays.

Mel L'Heureux was driving south from her home in Pemberton to Whistler when she stopped behind another vehicle. "Luckily everyone slows down for that corner regardless," she said. "I just saw the guy ahead had stopped moving and stopped behind him. We couldn't really tell with the sun in our eyes what had happened, my first thought was that a truck had flipped. But there was still a (rail car) hanging off the overpass, so we figured it out pretty quickly."

L'Heureux was able to turn around and drive home instead of continuing on to Whistler, but it's likely that hundreds of vehicles will be delayed as a crane is brought in to remove the rail car. Still, she said, it could have been worse.

"There were no injuries, no spills of any kind," she said. The cars seemed to be empty and amazingly enough no vehicles got pinned underneath it all."

It's not clear what was in the rail car or what caused the derailment. CN Rail and RCMP are investigating.

The Ministry of Transportation is providing updates at www.drivebc.ca. The last update was at 3:30 p.m. and another update is expected for 4:30.

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