Brynn Grimley (253) 983-7761 • Fax (253) 589-3774 • bgrimley@cityoflakewood.us
Communications Manager

Dec. 21, 2017

In light of Monday’s tragedy, it is hard to find the right words to explain everything our community experienced.

First and foremost our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and colleagues of the three men who lost their lives and those who were injured in Monday’s train derailment. We also offer our support to our neighbors in DuPont and our residents who are still trying to process what happened.

The South Sound community should be proud of how everyone came together to respond to this unspeakable tragedy. That includes the people who stopped their cars on Interstate 5 and ran to help train passengers out of the wreckage, to the first responders and law enforcement that raced to the scene and stayed to help reunite families and set up traffic detours, and to our medical professionals that were ready and waiting to treat patients at the trauma centers as they came in.

Thanks go to the crews that worked around the clock to remove the train cars and inspect the roadway to reopen I-5 and get traffic moving again through the region. Thanks also go to everyone impacted by the closure that were patient and adjusted their commutes and schedules to reduce the number of cars on the road.

The city was told Thursday (Dec. 21, 2017) by the Governor's Office that Amtrak trains will not return to the Point Defiance Bypass route until positive train control is installed. This advanced system is designed to automatically stop a train before certain accidents occur, including train-to-train collisions, derailments caused by excessive train speed and train movements through misaligned track switches. 

We will continue to follow the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation closely and share any pertinent information on the city’s website  as it becomes available.

* Note this release was updated at 2:15 p.m. *

Dec. 19, 2017

Since Amtrak train 501 derailed Monday just south of the City of DuPont, the City of Lakewood has been inundated with requests from journalists to speak with Mayor Don Anderson based on comments  he made at a council meeting earlier this month.

At that Dec. 4, 2017 meeting Anderson noted his concern about high-speed rail cutting through seven at-grade crossings in the city and the collateral damage that would occur should a train derail in city limits. His comments focused on the city’s concern that there are not enough safety precautions in place to protect pedestrian and vehicle traffic or the homes and businesses located around the railroad crossings in Lakewood.

The city continues to have concerns about the safety of our residents around the rail crossings in our community and routing high speed trains through urban areas without the proper safety measures in place, but our focus at this time is helping our neighbors in DuPont and assisting state and federal authorities as they continue with the investigation.

Our thoughts and sympathies are with everyone affected by yesterday’s derailment, including those who lost loved ones.

Donate Blood:

For more information on how people can help, visit Bloodworks Northwest , which is holding blood drives around the region to replenish the local blood supply after yesterday’s tragedy.

Family Reunification:

People looking for family or anyone who may be involved in the incident please call the reunification number: (800) 523-9101

Road updates:

The Washington State Patrol is posting updates to its InsideOut blog about the status of the Interstate 5 closure and alternative routes. 

Dec. 18, 2017

The city of Lakewood extends its sympathies to those affected by this morning’s Amtrak train derailment in DuPont.

Our police officers are on scene assisting Washington State Patrol and Amtrak with the incident. The city has no additional comments at this time as the investigation is still in its beginning stages.

Individuals with questions about their friends or family on Amtrak train 501 should call (800) 523-9101. A family reunification center is set up at 1700 Civic Drive in the City of DuPont (DuPont City Hall).

Media inquiries should go to the Pierce County Emergency Operations Center: (866) 977-2362.

Beginning Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 trains traveling up to 79 miles per hour will begin using the Point Defiance Bypass, which runs from the Tacoma Dome Station, through South Tacoma, Lakewood, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and DuPont.

Fourteen daily passenger trains will travel in both directions, in addition to the Sound Transit Sounder commuter trains that already run through the city. The Sounder trains stop at Lakewood Station, the Amtrak trains will not stop in the city.

Most of the fast trains will pass through Lakewood between 6:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. However, delays in schedules make it important to stay alert and expect trains at any time, day or night. There are times when trains will pass in both directions, which will prolong the amount of time the railroad crossing arms are down.

At times, Lakewood police officers will be stationed at intersections to promote safety. Drivers and pedestrians are urged to always follow good rail safety guidelines including:

  • Do not walk on or near the tracks
  • Do not stop your vehicle on the railroad tracks while waiting for traffic
  • Obey all signals at all times – both pedestrians and drivers
  • Wait for crossing arms to go up and/or lights to stop flashing before entering a crossing

Here is a schedule of the Sounder and Amtrak trains (times in Blue are Sounder; times in green are Amtrak).

Dec. 18, 2017

In response to media inquiries surrounding the comments made by Mayor Don Anderson at the council's Dec, 4, 2017 regular meeting, as well as additional requests for comments from the Mayor today in light of the Amtrak train 501 derailment in the City of DuPont, the city has posted audio from the meeting below.

Due to the length of the meeting, the audio is an excerpt only of the Mayor's comments. Mayor Anderson was addressing representatives from the state Department of Transportation Rail division. They were David Smelser, WSDOT Rail Division ARRA Cascades HSR Program Manager, and Janet Matkin, Communications Director. Their voices are the other voices heard on the recording.

Listen to the recording.

Additional records requests were made for the lawsuit the city filed in March 2013 against WSDOT citing its concerns about the new train route through the city. The lawsuit and related documents are linked below. To see a full listing of every legal document filed in the case visit Pierce County's Legal Information Network Exchange (LINX).

 

Lakewood Petition for Judicial Review

WSDOT Answer

City of Lakewood's Motion for Summary Judgement

Declaration of M. David Bugher

WSDOT Response to motion for Summary Judgement

Declaration of Danielle Oliver

Lakewood's Response to WSDOT response

WSDOT reply in support of its cross-motion for summary judgement

Order granting summary judgement

 

Read the city's statement on the derailment.

Pierce County's information on the trail derailment.

 

Lakewood Public Works employees carry on tradition of giving

This week the Lakewood Public Works Department delivered a truckload of toys to the Tillicum Community Center to be given to Tillicum families attending the center’s annual Christmas dinner.

The toys were purchased with money donated by employees of the department, former longtime Public Works director Don Wickstrom (who retired earlier this year), Pro Vac, Brian Fagernes with Cascade ROW Services and other contractors and friends.

The department has done something for the community around the holidays every year for the last decade. It started in 2007 when Public Works employees adopted a mom and her three daughters who were leaving an abusive situation and living in a low-rent apartment with next to nothing.

After learning of their struggles department employees furnished the apartment with everything from new beds and mattresses to a couch and kitchen table and chairs. The also: repaired the rotting deck and damage to the walls; installed a new toilet; purchased  Christmas tree and presents to go under it; and supplied them with clothing and food.

The department’s generosity gave the mom a renewed sense of freedom and the feeling that she could survive the situation she faced.

The following year the department shifted its focus to collection drives – choosing new recipients each year. Over the years that included adopting families and fulfilling their holiday wish lists, collecting food for different food drives, working with LASA to provide a Christmas for children that stay at the facility, donating to a toy drive for foster children, donating 20,000 pounds of dog and cat food to an area animal shelter, a pajama and sock drive and last year donating to Toys for Tots.

“This year we wanted to reach as many children as possible,” said administrative assistant Karen Devereaux, who said she was getting goosebumps just thinking about the amount of toys they were able to deliver.

Devereaux and compliance inspector Diana Halar did the shopping this year. They focused on sales and negotiated prices to get the most bang for their buck. The were able to purchase roughly $1,500 worth of items for $1,000.

“We always get construction themed stuff – that’s our deal,” Devereaux said. “We might make some wishes come true. It’s really fun every year.”

Halar noted being part of the department giving is “a most rewarding endeavor.”

“It really gets the holidays started for me,” she said.

Other departments within the city also found ways to give back this year.

  • Lakewood Municipal Court staff collected a large number of new gloves and hats and donated them to Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare.
  • The city’s Human Resources staff is scheduled to volunteer Dec. 20 at the Emergency Food Network warehouse repacking food items.
  • The Lakewood Officer’s charity will hold its annual Shop with an Officer event Saturday (Dec. 16) at the Lakewood Wal-Mart. Sixteen families were identified who will get to shop with a Lakewood officer and choose items for everyone in their family with funds donated by the charity.

 

Fresh off your Thanksgiving break we're ready to help you celebrate the holidays this year with our 21st Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, happening FRIDAY!

This year's even is sure to impress. We have a parade, visit from Santa, live entertainment, boutique vendors and food for purchase.

Festivities begin at Lakewood City Hall (6000 Main Street SW) at 5 p.m. 

The parade will travel down 59th Street in Lakewood Towne Center, ending at City Hall. Parade starts at 5:45 p.m., but make sure to get here early to line the parade route - you don't want to miss Santa's arrival by West Pierce Fire and Rescue fire truck at 6 p.m.!

Clover Park students will sing carols and we'll have a special performance by the Tacoma TotemAires Barbershop Harmony Chorus.

Santa can’t wait to meet your child and take a photo.

New this year is Candy Cane Lane, where visitors can stroll through boutique vendors with unique items for sale -- a perfect chance to start your holiday shopping early.

Inside City Hall children's Winter Wonderland LEGO creations will be on display. Register your child for the contest .

Enjoy family-friendly activities with "minute-to-win-it" games and arts and crafts.

Starbucks will provide hot drinks and holiday treats. Food vendors, including Stacks Burgers, will have food for purchase.

Own a business? Get in the holiday spirit by entering our Holiday Storefront Decorating Contest. (Winners announced Dec. 5.)

We can't wait to celebrate with you!

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