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Enhancement group installs fences around Pendleton Main Street railroad crossing

Antonio Sierra

East Oregonian

Published on December 11, 2017 5:52PM

Gabriel Chavez, left, and Dan Woellmer, both with Jimco Fence out of Salem, unload sections of fencing while installing a fence along the north side of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks on Monday in downtown Pendleton.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Gabriel Chavez, left, and Dan Woellmer, both with Jimco Fence out of Salem, unload sections of fencing while installing a fence along the north side of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks on Monday in downtown Pendleton.

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Dan Woellmer, with Jimco Fence out of Salem, carries a section of fencing over his head while installing a fence along the Union Pacific Railroad line on Monday in Pendleton.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Dan Woellmer, with Jimco Fence out of Salem, carries a section of fencing over his head while installing a fence along the Union Pacific Railroad line on Monday in Pendleton.

Buy this photo
Gabriel Chavez, with Jimco Fence out of Salem, hangs a section of fencing while installing a fence along the north side of the Union Pacific Railroad line on Monday in Pendleton.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Gabriel Chavez, with Jimco Fence out of Salem, hangs a section of fencing while installing a fence along the north side of the Union Pacific Railroad line on Monday in Pendleton.

Buy this photo

After starting off with subtraction, the Pendleton Enhancement Project is in the midst of adding to the 500 block of South Main Street.

The project — a collaboration between several local organizations and government agencies — is behind the installation of new iron fencing around the railroad tracks.

According to a press release from the Pendleton Downtown Association, one of the organizations involved with the project, the fences will run from behind the Heritage Station Museum toward Main Street. From Main, the fence will proceed eastward toward Southeast Third Street. Additional fencing will be installed at the site of the former Webb’s Cold Storage building and on the north side of the Eagles parking lot.

The $70,000 cost was split between a $20,000 Wildhorse Foundation grant to the Pendleton Enhancement Project and Union Pacific Railroad. The group expects the fences will be completed next week.

The fence is meant to funnel pedestrians through the Main Street railroad crossing rather than allowing them to walk around the crossing arms.

Union Pacific spokesman Justin Jacobs said the railroad company enjoys working with community partners to enhance railroad safety. He said it’s illegal for pedestrians to travel across railroad tracks outside of designated crossings and the aim is to decrease these types of pedestrian habits.

Pendleton Downtown Association Executive Director Molly Turner said the fences could also act as a community enhancement for Museum Park, providing a barrier between park patrons and the railroad tracks.

“It makes it more usable for them,” she said.

With Webb’s Cold Storage demolished and the fences nearly completed, the project will move on to its third and final phase, the most ambitious and expensive part of its plan.

The group had originally envisioned creating an event plaza surrounded by historic trusses from the Eighth Street Bridge and a food hub from the Community Action Program of East Central Oregon.

After failing to reach a mutually agreeable land lease with Union Pacific, the project refocused its efforts on beautifying the parking lot across from the Fraternal Order of Eagles sans a CAPECO food hub.

The press release notes that creating a South Main Street gateway for the downtown area is a goal of the city’s 2003 urban renewal plan.

The project’s current plan calls for relocating three trusses around the parking lot in 2018 or 2019 as the city continues to work on replacing the Eighth Street bridge. With more than $100,000 in financial backing of Umatilla County, the Pendleton Development Commission, Pendleton Foundation Trust and private donors, the project is still raising money toward the relocation costs.

Turner said the enhancement project is convening a committee to take a look at the landscaping for the improved parking lot and opportunities to solicit public input on the project.

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Contact Antonio Sierra at asierra@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.





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