Letters to the Editor for Aug. 22, 2011

By Baker City Herald Readers August 22, 2011 09:49 pm


Train whistles
blow for safety

To the editor:
This letter is in response to the recent run of complaints pertaining to the excessive horn use at railroad crossings in Baker City at late hours.
As a Union Pacific employee, I would like to clarify national railroad crossing policy. We are mandated by the Department of Transportation document number FRA-2007-27285, established by the Federal Railway Administration, to provide ample warning for public safety.


This states that the engineer must begin signaling between 15 to 20 seconds before approaching the crossing and continuing until the lead engine completely occupies the crossing. Currently there are four public crossings, three private crossings, and one pedestrian crossing within the city limits.
Each one of these requires the engineer to signal upon approach. Engineers are also required by law to sound warnings when encountering maintenance personnel repairing track and trespassers on railroad property.
The gates are an electronic warning device, and like all mechanical devices, can and will fail on occasion. It is not uncommon to see a pedestrian or automobile weave around the gates or hurry through before they are all the way down.
Yearly there are hundreds severely injured or killed at road crossings. There have been several accidents over the years, right here in Baker City.
More information is available for public access at www.fra.dot.gov or at www.up.com. Please remember, these laws are for your safety.
Casey Taylor
Track Inspector
Baker City

Let’s drink to  downtown fountains
To the editor:
Baker City is well-known for excellent pure water.
In former years drinking fountains graced the sidewalks on Main Street,  in the historic area.
Each 3-foot stone pedestal offered piped-in, bubbly drinking water. The continual flow drained into a copper splash bowl and then exited through the bottom. Passersby relished a refreshing drink from the fountain.
These instant thirst quenchers were located near curbside at the old Post Office sidewalk, another in front of the Orpheum theater (now Marilyn’s Music) and one near the front entrance of Geiser Grand Hotel. An additional fountain was also located on the north lawn at Union Pacific Depot. There may have been others, but these come to mind.
I would like to see at least one of these bubbling entities reinstalled. These would serve not only as a convenience for local shoppers, but as a welcoming gesture to visitors as they stroll Main Street. I visualize a drinking fountain available at the Court Street relaxation area.
In the new version, a molded splash bowl of high-tech material would be desirable atop the stone structure. This would not attract vandals as readily as the copper lining used in originals.
Are there other residents who favor installation of a downtown drinking fountain in the historic district? If so, let it be known to city officials or Historic Baker City leaders for consideration.
In future seasons we may possibly ‘drink to that.’
Phyllis Badgley
Baker City