Reporting Meghan McCorkell
ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) — Four days after a deadly train derailment, Ellicott City is back open for business. Roads reopened in the center of town as questions still swirl about what caused that train to go off the tracks.
Meghan McCorkell the latest on the investigation.
Federal investigators now say they believe the derailment happened just before midnight Monday. Damage is estimated at $2.2 million.
Just days after 21 derailed train cars dumped coal all over downtown, Ellicott City is open once again.
“This community will come out of this stronger than ever,” said Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.
Main Street reopened at 7 p.m. on Friday. But signs of the tragedy remain.
A memorial sits on the sidewalk for 19-year-olds Rose Mayr and Elizabeth Nass. The two were on the railway bridge when the cars overturned. Their bodies were found buried in the coal.
Hundreds of friends and family members gathered at the Church of the Resurrection in Ellicott City to remember Nass, a student at James Madison University in Virginia.
The funeral for Mayr will be held on Saturday. Both women were graduates of Mt. Hebron High School.
“This community is still grieving the loss of two beautiful, intelligent young women whose lives were cut short by this tragedy,” Ulman said.
The investigation into the tragedy and cleanup brought downtown to a standstill.
Sally Tennant owns the store, Discoveries.
“I know that I’m missing a tremendous amount of business,” she said.
“This week it’s been a lot slower because no one thinks that we’re open,” Caitlin Mullett at Sweet Elizabeth Jane said.
With the road back open, the folks at Sweet Elizabeth Jane are hoping for more foot traffic this weekend.
To encourage people to come shop in the city, officials have suspended parking fees for the weekend.
Many say it’s time for an Appreciation Weekend downtown.
Even Ravens star Ray Rice is urging his Facebook fans to go support the shops and restaurants on Main Street.
“Seeing Ray Rice post about it, that’s just exciting for us,” Mullet said.
A big weekend could bring a sense of normalcy back to this community.
Railroad police are now handing out pamphlets warning about the dangers of trespassing on the train bridge.
In the next few weeks, repairs will be made to a retaining wall near the tracks. County officials warn there may be periodic road closures.
Main Street is part of state Route 144. A nearly quarter-mile section running beneath the tracks has been closed since early Tuesday morning.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is the lead investigator of the train wreck. Final determination of a cause is likely to be months away.