Point Richmond wigwags have been deactivated. New gates have been installed
crossing, however, the wigwags will remain for now, just not operational. Wayne Nishioka,
attorney for the City of Richmond, had this to say:
|"As you know, after our hearing before the PUC, the administrative
law judge held in our favor but he PUC reversed that opinion and said the
wigwags had to be removed and the City was poised to ask for a reconsideration
by the PUC and if denied, we were prepared to appeal the matter to the
Court of Appeals.
In the other lawsuit brought by BNSF, the City received a negative decision by the superior court on the historic deisgnation of the wigwags. The City appealed that case to the Calif. Court of Appeals, but just before oral argument, the City settled the case with BNSF.
The settlement allows the gates to be installed and the wigwags will be left in place but inoperative except for ceremonial purposes. The City has an option to buy the land adjacent to the wigwags as part of the settlement."
The CPUC recently ruled in favor of BNSF, allowing them
to continue with the crossing upgrade. As soon as I can locate the paperwork that
was just sent to me (I just moved), I will quote some of it here. I will
also find out what will happen to the wigwags, if they will be preserved
at the crossing or moved elsewhere.
On my most recent visit (2/04) nothing has changed
at this crossing.
Still waiting to hear what will happen.
We grant the request of the City of Richmond (City) to prevent removal of the wigwag warning devices
(wigwags) at the Richmond Avenue crossing (Crossing) by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Company
(BNSF), because BNSF did not apply for or receive Commission approval of the work
on the Crossing that includes removing the wigwags. BNSF may not undertake any work on removing,
changing the type, or adding to the automatic warning devices at the
Crossing until it has received approval from the Commission. This proceeding is closed.
BNSF has 30 days to appeal. We'll see what happens...
By Greg Cannon
A Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokeswoman urged against a PUC hearing, saying it would further delay making the crossing safe. "We made a compromise that makes the crossing safe and preserves the wigwags," said railway spokeswoman Lena Kent.
In a May 8 letter to Mayor Irma Anderson, Assemblywoman Dion Aroner, D-Berkeley, urged the council to continue its opposition to crossing gates. Aroner alluded to the absence of a record of vehicle vs. train accidents and wrote that the issue could be resolved if the railroad abandoned the crossing.
Kent says alternatives were investigated but are not feasible. In a recent internal memo, Interim Planning Manager Bob Brown told council members that the railroad had threatened the city with legal action, but Kent said, "I think at this point we're still wanting to work with the city."
Ph. (510) 233-8188 or email-
Proceeds benefit the Wigwag Defense Fund.
Also be sure to check out Point
Richmond Online for more information.
Pt. Richmond's wigwags wait out their fate.
Here's his take on the event:
The rally got underway around 12:30pm near the West Richmond Ave. crossing protected by the wigwag, on the lawn in front of the Richmond Plunge (a public swimming pool, ironically also endangered). I didn't count, but I'd say over 100 people were there, carrying prepared signs that said things like "We Want Wig Wags" (with the words sharing a common W), "Save Our Wigwags," "Wigwag Love," etc. They had several speakers who spoke to the crowd through a bullhorn from the bed of a pickup, including former Richmond Mayor Rosemary Corbin. The talk was mostly about the good safety record of the crossing (therefore an upgrade isn't necessary for safety reasons), how both trains and cars move slowly through the crossing (therefore...) and how the wigwags are part of the area's image. They even had a "wigwag chant," to be shouted while waving a picture of a wigwag banner over your head:
"Burlington Northern Santa Fe - Richmond's wigwags gotta stay!"
It remains to be seen whether
the wigwags can be legally preserved in place and in service. There are
federal rules about these things, and apparently the Public Utilities Commission
wants the crossing upgraded. There was to be a city council meeting on
1/28/02 where the issue of
It will be interesting to watch this play out. Some of the fans in attendance at the rally were shaking their heads and marveling that ordinary citizens could get this worked up over an obscure (but charming) form of crossing protection.
Virtually every utility pole and storefront had flyers posted on them.
Above photos by Dan Furtado (1/28/02)
San Francisco Chronicle article (1/26/02)
The effort to save our wig-wags continues at a frantic pace! Attorneys are being consulted, media alerted, politicians contacted, and city staff have been responsive to the emergency at hand. Thank you to all who have pledged financial support as well as personal time and energy. As soon as the account is established I will provide you with an address so you can send your much needed contributions. Following are some key dates and times. Public support is essential.
-Thursday, January 24 the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee will have a public hearing at 7 PM in the Richmond Library Whittlesy Room to consider recommending to the City Council placing the wig-wags on the Richmond Register. If that recommendation is affirmative, then the City Council will review the issue on January 29.
-Friday, January 25 there will be an article on the wig-wags in the West County Times. It may be in the special "West County Weekly" section, so if it is not on page A3, look for it there.
-A big rally is being planned to support saving the historic wig-wags on Richmond Avenue at the BNSF grade crossing in Point Richmond at 12:30 PM this Monday, January 28. Some signs will be available; however, participants are asked to bring their own placards if possible. The staging area will be the front lawn of the Plunge. Our Richmond Police Substation Commander, Lt. Wilson has been apprised of the planned activity and will be present as a matter of public safety.
-On Tuesday, January 29 the wig-wags will be on the agenda (if the January 24 hearing was successful) for the City Council meeting at 7 PM. If this is successful, it will invoke protection under Richmond Municipal Code (Chapter 6.06 and Section 15.04.930.020.D).
Please tell your friends and neighbors. Spread the word. Let's humiliate BNSF into submission!
We need your help. BNSF is trying to take our Point Richmond Wig-Wags and replace with crossing arms. We are mounting a defense siting that prior to removal or alterations, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) must be addressed as well as the historic and cultural significance of the Wig-Wags to the Richmond location. The Point Richmond neighborhood -- and the Wig-Wags -- are listed as part of the Point Richmond National Historic District.
I am looking for any supporting information concerning the history of the Wig-Wags and when they were installed. I also understand our Wig-Wags could be Northern California's last working Wig-Wag signals -- can you confirm this?
On the operation of the Wig-Wags -- it was suggested that BNSF will make the claimed that repair parts for the Wig-Wags are not available. Do you know of a source for Magnet Signal Co. Wig-Wag parts?
We go before the City Council on Tuesday January 29. The Wig-Wags are an important asset to our neighborhood and our history.
Thank you for your help saving the Wig-Wags.
Ms. Kristen M. Gates
Saw your wig-wag site. We're about 1 block down the street