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Mudslide Shuts Down Amtrak And Sound Transit

Lesley McClurg
05/04/2012

Thursday night a large mudslide in downtown Seattle dumped onto railroad tracks near the north end of the King Street tunnel in downtown Seattle. If you were planning on taking a train from Seattle to Everett you'll have to take the bus. Each time a mudslide hits the tracks, passenger trains are required to stay off the tracks for 48 hours.

TRANSCRIPT

Yesterday's rainfall was record breaking. It was more rain than any other May 3 since 1945. But it likely wasn't the amount of rain that caused the mudslide; it was how hard the rain fell.

Montgomery: "There was a fairly short, fairly intense burst of rainfall in the downtown and south of downtown areas that way may well have been the trigger that caused that landslide."

That's Dave Montgomery. He's is a geomorphologist at the University of Washington. Last night's landside covered 50 feet of track in four feet of debris. Gus Melonas is the spokesperson for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railways.

Melonas: "I have 36 years with the company and this is the largest slide in this general area that I've ever seen. I've seen some light sloughing, some slipping in this area, but not to this magnitude."

Slides are much more common near Everett, Mukilteo and Edmonds. The state recently received $16.1 million in funds to firm up our hill sides, but Montgomery says the problem is really too big to fix.

Montgomery: "If you wanted to essentially eliminate the chance of land sliding along the railroad tracks, it might be cheaper to just move the tracks. In other words, it's prohibitively expensive."

In other words, we're likely to see more slides in the future. Service between Everett and Seattle on Amtrak and Sounder trains will return to normal on Sunday morning.

For KUOW News, I'm Lesley McClurg.

© Copyright 2012, KUOW

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