Bright yellow posts prevent cars from going around barriers and signs remind drivers to "LOOK" as they cross railroad tracks, yet train whistles continue to sound at all hours as La Grande waits for the Quiet Zone to take effect.
Before the safety measures were installed, trains were required by law to blow their whistles at each crossing. Citizens and businesses spurred the city to implement a Quiet Zone in La Grande to still the whistles, and after a lengthy process changes were made to make a quieter La Grande possible. The safety devices were installed at five intersections: Cherry Street, Fir Street, Willow Street, East H Avenue and Greenwood Street.
Construction at the crossings was completed at the end of July, but the whistles continue to sound because of a problem with the positioning of the flashing lights at Cherry Street.
According to La Grande City Manager Robert Strope, one of the lights at Cherry Street needs to be turned so it is more visible to pedestrians. He said the work must be completed by Union Pacific Railroad.
“Our understanding is that we are submitting a work order, but we do not have a specific date for construction,” Strope said.
Union Pacific Railroad's senior director of corporate communications and media relations, Kristen South, confirmed that a work order has been submitted and that the next step will be a pre-inspection to ensure all safety requirements and measures have been taken. Until then the whistles will continue to blow at each intersection as the zone has not been made official.
The construction of the Quiet Zones is a collaboration between the city of La Grande, UPR, Oregon Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration.