Northstar commuter service won’t return till Tuesday

  • Article by: NICOLE NORFLEET , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 18, 2011 - 6:45 AM

Rail track in Fridley should be back in service Monday, but not for Twins fans.

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A Burlington Northern Santa Fe engine and cars blocked the tracks after derailing just over Rice Creek near Plaza Park in Fridley on Saturday 7/16/2011. A small portion of a bridge washed out due to high overnight rains in the area.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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Cleanup continued Sunday at the site of a spectacular weekend train derailment in Fridley, which will force rail commuters and many Twins fans to find alternate modes of transportation on Monday.

The Northstar Line, which runs between Big Lake and downtown Minneapolis, isn't expected to reopen until Tuesday in the wake of an accident Saturday morning in which 17 railcars and two locomotives on a westbound freight train derailed and damaged a bridge.

The derailment occurred at about 7:15 a.m. Saturday as the train crossed a bridge over Rice Creek and hit an area where an overnight downpour had swept away the track's foundation.

The accident caused about 500 gallons of diesel fuel to spill into the creek, which flows into the Mississippi River.

Other trains, including the Northstar, which runs Twins game trips to Target Field in addition to its regular daily routes, have been blocked from using the tracks.

Crews on Sunday were working to clear the derailed cars, repair the tracks and the bridge and contain the fuel, said BNSF Railway spokeswoman Amy McBeth.

Booms were set up Saturday to help contain the fuel. The leak hasn't reached the river, McBeth said.

While the main damaged track is expected to be back in service by noon Monday, a backlog of freight trains that need to get through would prevent the return of afternoon Northstar service, said Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland.

Siqveland said all commuter trains are expected to be running Tuesday morning, although the Fridley station will be bypassed until a second damaged track is returned to service.

BNSF's second main track is expected to be repaired and reopened by Tuesday morning, McBeth said. Commuters and Twins fans seeking other Monday travel options can visit www.metrotransit.org or www. destinationtargetfield.com.

Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495

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