By JOYCE GRAHAM
A downtown landmark for decades, host to hundreds of lights during the holiday season, the Loris Christmas tree is coming down.
It’s a matter of safety, a letter from R.J. Corman Railroad Group that landed on the desk of City Administrator Damon Kempski last month said.
Sprawling over the tracks and over a sidewalk, the old tree has placed the railroad in violation of state law, the letter said, and must come down quickly.
Despite the sentimental value the old tree as, the railroad in its letter said it has the “responsibility to respect and eliminate obstructions and hazards which create unsafe conditions for the public and the railroad.”
Not only does the tree encroach on the track, the letter said, it violates federal regulations that require a right-of-way clear of obstructions that might prevent motorists or others from seeing an oncoming train.
“It is important that the crossing sight distance is maintained so there is nothing obstructing the motorist’s view of approaching trains and signage or obstructing the train conductor’s view of approaching motorists, pedestrians and railway signals,” the letter said. “This safety concern puts us in violation of the Federal Railroad Administration 49 CFR 213.37 regulation. Vegetation on Railroad property which is or immediately adjacent to the roadbed must be controlled so that it does not obstruct visibility of railroad signs and signals along the right of way and at highway-rail grade crossings or interfere with railroad employees performing normal track duties.”
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