SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

May 20, 2013

Weeklong traffic mess possible after Conn. derailment

HARTFORD, Conn. — Traffic in southwest Connecticut could be a mess for as much as a week until service is restored to the commuter rail line affected by a derailment that injured scores of passengers, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy warned yesterday.

Malloy used dire language to describe traffic troubles for the work week ahead in an area that even in normal times is a pain for motorists. And the governor warned that the weather will not cooperate as rainy weather forecast will make driving a bit more treacherous.

Malloy even urged commuters to stay out of the state if possible.

“Tomorrow’s commute will be extremely challenging,” he said at a brief news conference in Hartford. “Residents should plan for a week’s worth of disruptions.”

If all 30,000 affected commuters took to the highways to get to work, “we would literally have a parking lot,” the governor said. If a substantial number of affected consumers hit the roads, traffic will be “greatly slowed,” he said.

The state will dispatch more state troopers and tow trucks to respond to car accidents that could come with crowded roads and slippery conditions, he said.

“If you are going to New York and you get to New York or you’re transporting yourself to New York you may decide that perhaps you should stay there for the duration of this disturbance,” Malloy said.

Crews will spend days rebuilding 2,000 feet of track, overhead wires and signals following the collision between two trains Friday evening that injured 72 people. Nine remained hospitalized yesterday, with one critically.

“This amounts to the wholesale reconstruction of a two-track electrified railroad,” he said.

Several days of around-the-clock work will be required, including inspections and testing of the newly rebuilt system, Metro-North President Howard Permut said. The damaged rail cars were removed from the tracks yesterday, the first step toward making the repairs.

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