PUEBLO, Colo. (KDVR) — Both directions of Interstate 25 near Pueblo were reopened on Thursday afternoon after a train derailment shut down a stretch of the highway for days.
The southbound lanes of I-25 affected by the Sunday deadly train derailment north of Pueblo reopened Wednesday afternoon, hours after Gov. Jared Polis visited the site.
The northbound lanes were expected to reopen Thursday afternoon, according to Polis. The area was being repaved in advance of reopening. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, there may be a need to reopen only one lane northbound prior to reopening the whole roadway.
Polis was in Pueblo on Wednesday to view the deadly train derailment site, which killed a 60-year-old Californian truck driver when his semi-trailer was crushed under the bridge.
Federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board released preliminary findings on Tuesday, showing that a broken rail likely caused the crash.
“Our top priority is to get the highway back open so that people can continue traveling safely between Colorado Springs and Pueblo, and the rest of the state,” said Polis. “Though the investigation is still ongoing, it remains clear that investments in rail are needed now more than ever and Colorado has been working for months to take advantage of historic safety and rail funding from the federal government.”
BNSF, the rail company operating the train, told reporters the railway was inspected earlier on Sunday, before the derailment.
“Specific to this area, BNSF conducted a combination of rail detection testing, advanced track infrastructure testing and visual inspections within the last three months, including the most recent inspection that occurred on Sunday, October 15 prior to the derailment,” said Lena Kent, BNSF general director of public affairs.
The closure of I-25 has forced drivers to detour through the town of Penrose, almost 30 miles west of Pueblo. A 9-mile stretch of the highway has been closed as crews work to remove debris.
“We appreciate the all hands on deck approach to getting this work done quickly, and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway taking the lead on rebuilding the bridge safely and efficiently,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew.
Motorists should expect the area to be rough and slightly reduced speed limits will be enacted, as cleanup and reconstruction continue.