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  • Last modified 10 days ago (Nov. 8, 2018)

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The public be damned

To the editor:

The Union Pacific Railroad seems to embody the arrogant robber baron attitude of the 1880s so succinctly expressed by railroad tycoon William Henry Vanderbilt when he said Oct 8, 1882, “The public be damned.”

During or shortly after the rain of Oct 24-25, Union Pacific Railroad workers or contractors drove equipment down Chisholm Trail south of 250th several miles, as well as on 240th and other roads in the vicinity of Waldeck, tearing the roads all to pieces, leaving deep water-filled ruts and huge basket-ball clumps of mud, which, when dry, become rocks, and tearing up ditches.

Days later, roads were barely passable in a high clearance pickup and impassable by cars or smaller SUVs. All of us end up paying for the Union Pacific Railroad’s egregious behavior and wanton destruction of our county’s roads.

In addition, Union Pacific Railroad was blocking road crossing, not for replacement of crossings and ties, but for its own convenience to work on and service equipment. This was forcing people on main roads such as Diamond to make lengthy — both time and miles — detours.

And, all the road closures were being done arbitrarily by the Union Pacific Railroad without notification or approval of the county. This endangered public safety. What if an ambulance was on a heart attack run and unexpectedly encountered a closed crossing and had to detour 20 minutes or more out of the way?

And, of course, the public and local government have no recourse because the KCC has no teeth when it comes to railroads.

So, I have a new “Vanderbilt” phrase for the 2010s: “The Union Pacific Railroad be damned!”

Steve Schmidt, McPherson

(Marion County landowner)

Last modified Nov. 8, 2018

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