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WEST ALLIS - Union Pacific trains were expected to be back on track this week following a derailment here last week of 20 freight cars, Calli Hite, a Union Pacific director of corporate communications, said.

"Clean up efforts at the derailment site continue," Hite said in an email. "A few items remain, which will be cleared out by Saturday, July 15.

"Crews continued making track repairs. We now anticipate the track will open for rail traffic sometime tomorrow, Wednesday, July 12. Union Pacific appreciates the community's support as we work through this situation."

Five coal cars derailed on the bridge above Greenfield Avenue in West Allis and had to be removed,

A total of 20 coal cars derailed about 5:20 p.m. Thursday, July 6, Hite said. 

“A couple residents said their houses shook” when the Union Pacific coal train derailed, said Michael May, one of two aldermen for the area of West Allis where the incident occurred.

The train derailed near 105th Street with some of the derailed cars on the bridge over busy Greenfield Avenue. Coal spilled onto the street, which was quickly closed to traffic and remained closed Friday, July 7.

Railroad officials were not returning telephone calls early this week for comment on a suspected cause of the derailment. There were no injuries.

As of 2 p.m. Friday, July 7, all five coal cars that had derailed on the bridge above Greenfield Avenue in West Allis had been removed, said Calli Hite, Union Pacific director of corporate communications.

A total of 20 coal cars derailed Thursday, July 6, about 5:20 p.m., Hite said. Cleanup was in the final stages of coal removal, she said.

"A couple residents said their houses shook" when the Union Pacific coal train derailed, said Michael May, one of two aldermen for the area of West Allis where the incident occurred.

The train derailed near 105th Street with some of the derailed cars on the bridge over busy Greenfield Avenue. Coal spilled onto the street, which was quickly closed to traffic and remained closed Friday, July 7.

As of late Friday morning, railroad officials were still saying they hoped to have Greenfield Avenue cleaned up enough to open by evening.

The cause of the derailment was not immediately known. There were no injuries.

Car ripped

May, who arrived at the scene only minutes after the derailment, said of the situation on the bridge: "It looked like one car had slammed into another and ripped the coal car completely open and spilled coal onto the street below."

Fellow Alderman Gary Barczak arrived minutes later and said the coal that was in chunks smaller than a fist had fallen in small piles, and the scene on the bridge was a m.

"They really crashed into each other," Barczak said about the cars on the bridge. "They were bent, up in the air and leaning over." 

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Main line down

The derailment tore down a primary electrical line, knocking out power for 1,031 We Energies customers living as far away as 115th Street, which is 10 blocks from the scene. The outage reached as far south as National Avenue, said We Energies spokesman Brian Manthey. 

The Sam's Club and Walgreens drug store on Highway 100 both closed because the power was out, Barczak said. He also was told that the Speedway on Greenfield Avenue at 103rd Street was closed. Store personnel declined to comment.

Power was restored in a little more than three hours for 937 customers, Manthey said. The remaining 94 were back online by 10:05 p.m., about four hours and 15 minutes after the accident, he said.

Buses rerouted

Meanwhile, nearby planned freeway closures related to Zoo Interchange work didn't happen because Greenfield Avenue is an alternate route for freeway traffic, said Michael Pyritz of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Milwaukee County Transit buses were immediately rerouted around the closure, said Brendan Conway, transit spokesman. Route 56 that travels east down Greenfield Avenue from 124th Street was affected, Conway said. As of Friday morning, eastbound buses were still taking Highway 100 to Lincoln Avenue to 92nd Street and back to Greenfield Avenue, he said. Westbound buses were taking the reverse route.

Drivers stop for people waving them down and let passengers off near where they usually disembark, he said.

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