“A lot of weight to be moved:” Progress made on mangled mess of train cars in West Allis

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West Allis train derailment cleanup

WEST ALLIS -- Crews cleaning up the large train derailment in West Allis are making significant progress. Thursday, July 6th 20 cars filled with coal veered off the tracks near 104th and Greenfield.

Many of those train cars the derailed are now a mangled mess of metal, but several weren't badly damaged.

Operating heavy machinery, local and regional railroad maintenance crews lay down new train tracks on the Union Pacific line through West Allis.

West Allis train derailment cleanup

"There's so much weight with the train cars that it kind of mangles the rail and the ties, railroad ties," said Greg Hronik, Maggio Truck Center.

West Allis train derailment cleanup

Around 6:00 p.m. Thursday evening, July 6th a train of 145 cars traveling through the area derailed near 104th and Greenfield Avenue, destroying ten cars causing traffic closures below the bridge until Friday night, July 7th.

"I'm just glad nobody got hurt. That's what I'm grateful for," said Noelle Guy, lives nearby.

Noelle Guy lives in the Lincoln Park mobile home park next to the wreckage and works at the gas station across the street.

"You can walk five feet and you're on the track," said Guy. "It's just unbelievable seeing this."

West Allis train derailment cleanup

Saturday afternoon, July 8th Guy wanted to show her gratitude to the men in the orange hats.

West Allis train derailment cleanup

"Because they come in every day, and purchase a whole bunch of food for us and water and Gatorade. It's just a nice gesture to bring them a cold case of water from work," said Guy.

The other half of the 20 cars that derailed suffered minimal damage. Greg Hronik with Maggio Truck Center out of Rockford, used specially designed excavators to connect the last of the cars to the rest of the train.

"Takes a lot of power to lift the coal cars, they're full, so it's a lot of weight to be moved," said Hronik.

44,000 pounds each to be exact. Hronik has one word to describe the process: tiring.

Once all of the cars were put back in place, the train left the area around 5:30 p.m. Saturday. All that remains now are the ten or so damaged cars. Contractors say they'll be cut up and removed.

Meanwhile, the cause of the derailment is still under investigation.

West Allis train derailment cleanup