Some things in life one simply never want to be proved right about. Surely, the mayor of a city near today’s deadly Amtrak train wreck saw his dire prediction come true.
Before Amtrak’s inaugural run of Route 501 and subsequent wreck south of Seattle on Monday morning, many warned of the dangers to come by allowing old-but-updated Sound Transit tracks to be used for high-speed Amtrak trains. Among them was the City of Lakewood, Wa.’s mayor, Don Anderson.
Seattle’s ABC affiliate reported two weeks ago Anderson was very concerned about the rate of speed Amtrak trains would be allowed to travel at. (Emphasis added).
The mayor of Lakewood believes it is just a matter of time before these high speed trains kill someone. He asked the DOT presenters to do better. Mayor Don Anderson said grade separations – such as overpasses – should be included to keep trains away from cars and pedestrians.
“Come back when there is that accident, and try to justify not putting in those safety enhancements, or you can go back now and advocate for the money to do it, because this project was never needed and endangers our citizens,” Anderson said.
Anderson sadly didn’t have to wait long for the horror he foresaw proved accurate.
The problems Anderson predicted would lead to disaster was the re-routing of passenger trains, including Amtrak Cascades and Sounder commuter trains, to a bypass rail running along Interstate 5, the main artery from Canada to Mexico. These trains would be able to run at speeds up to 79 miles per hour.
According to Amtrak, the new route would save passengers a whopping 10 minutes and theoretically improve on-time reliability. From one eye-witness account on CNN earlier today, the train was running about 30 minutes late at one point.
Mayor Anderson and other city officials have long been concerned over the plans to re-route the passenger trains and even sued to block the re-route, but lost.
As we continue to wait for officials to release the exact number of fatalities, we can be sure of one thing: The issues of concern with the re-route and speed of the train — which has already been reported to possibly have been over the maximum speed — will leave a lot of blame to spread around. Tragically, people died because certain safety concerns and warnings were ignored.