Columbus Boulevard in New Britain Reopens After Train Derailment

Crews worked through the night to cleanup debris after a train derailed in New Britain on Tuesday and Columbus Boulevard has reopened, according to the mayor.

A Pan Am freight train derailed outside of a shopping plaza at 150 Columbus Boulevard at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, according to police and city officials.

New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart said an on-duty police officer was in the CVS parking lot when they saw seven train cars tip over and onto the side. No one was hurt, but the location is causing headaches for the city.

“It is quite the traffic nightmare in the area. This is a main thoroughfare of the city,” Stewart said earlier this week.

Columbus Boulevard was closed between Bank and Chestnut streets and the mayor expected it would be closed until Saturday, but the debris was removed well ahead of schedule, according to the mayor.

While the street was closed, businesses in the area, including CVS Pharmacy as well as those in Columbus Plaza have been open, but were only accessible only from Chestnut Street. 

The cars that toppled were carrying construction debris that spilled out onto the street, but multiple cars following those were carrying odorless propane and chemical residue, which created another concern for officials.

Pan Am and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection responded for cleanup and Pan Am will remain at the scene for the next couple of days.

Officials have been monitoring for possible gases but there have been no reports of the air being unsafe.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration is investigating the cause of the derailment.  

Officials from the FRA said inspectors are looking into several factors and will assess the condition of the tracks. 

“We are extremely lucky that no one was injured during this incident,” Mayor Stewart said in a statement. “I have to thank our Public Works Department, Health officials, New Britain Fire and Police Departments, along with the state agencies who responded quickly and who are working diligently to return this area back to normal as soon as possible.”

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