Part of Highway 76 still closed during train derailment cleanup - - Columbia, South Carolina

Part of Highway 76 still closed during train derailment cleanup

(Jalapa-AP) Dec. 5, 2002 - A coal train derailed in Newberry County around 2:00 Thursday morning near Jalapa. Sheriff Lee Foster says 18 cars of a CSX train left the track, which runs parallel to US 76, spilling thousands of tons of coal onto the highway.

Foster says two of the 20-ton cars, each of which held 80 tons of coal, also landed on the highway, spilling coal and forcing authorities to close the highway. No one was hurt, and Janice Wicker, who lives nearby, says she's amazed, "It all mangled up. I mean, it could've derailed when was someone was coming down the road."

Highway 76 was closed between Highway 121 and Highway 66 near Laurens County. Traffic was detoured out to Interstate 26. Sheriff Foster says Highway 76 will remained closed while crews clean up debris off the side of the road.

Sheriff Foster says investigators are trying to determine if the weather caused the derailment morning accident. Investigators noted the tracks were icy, early Thursday, but they spent most of the morning moving the giant pile of coal to the spot where the derailment started.

Though the weather could be partly responsible, the sheriff says it also helped keep homeowners like Janice who lives within 50 feet of the tracks inside, "We are fortunate that the weather kept people in and a lot of the plants are located on this side. They were closed because of the weather, so the traffic was very, very minimal."

Janice wonders one thing, "That must have made a lot of noise, and we didn't hear it."

While Foster says he's seen a number of derailments, Thursday's was the first he'd seen that blocked a major roadway.

by Lisa Goddard
updated 6:07pm by Chris Rees

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