Salem, Oregon has a conservative-leaning City Council and Mayor. Back when I was growing up, the 1950's and 60's, conservatives were pretty damn thrifty. Also, unashamed of being conservationists.
Conserve was taken seriously as the foundation of conservatism.
My mother was an avid Republican. She didn't like to spend money, partly because she came of age during the Depression. Yet also because she believed in only buying what you needed.
Things have changed.
Just look at what Salem's City Council and Mayor are pushing upon the citizenry: a $600-800 million unneeded and unwanted Third Bridge across the Willamette River.
It's the supposedly tax-and-spend progressive types who are saying, "Hey, we don't need to tax or spend to pay for this boondoggle; let's be conservative; we can fix and improve the bridges we already have for much less than it would cost to build a brand new bridge; plus, not building a Third Bridge will conserve homes, businesses, and the environment."
The best arguments I've seen against a Third Bridge have been made by Mark Wigg, who was a project manager with the Oregon Department of Transportation for over twenty years.
Today the No Third Bridge folks shared Wigg's testimony that he submitted to the City Council and Mayor, who will be voting next Monday (June 24) on whether to keep moving toward a Third Bridge, which is costing about $100,000 a month even though it would take a decade or more to actually build this monstrosity.
Wigg makes great points in a succinct manner. I hope the councillors and Mayor pay heed to his deeply conservative approach. Here's the No Third Bridge post:
WE CAN SOLVE THE PEAK HOUR CONGESTION PROBLEM NOW, BUT NOT BY "FIXATING" ON A 3RD BRIDGE
This written testimony from Mark Wigg just about sums it up. Seven years ago the Salem River Crossing Project set out to solve a peak hour traffic congestion problem around the ends of the existing bridges. Today that project has mutated into the Salem Alternative that will do next to nothing to solve that problem.
Mark Wigg knows what he is talking about. He was a transportation project manager for over 20 years. He worked for ODOT on many of the largest and most complex transportation projects in the state. We hope the Council will listen and heed his expert testimony when they vote on the 3rd bridge next Monday night.
Dear Mayor and City Council,
It is time to Let Your People Know:
1. That pushing for a new bridge means not reducing congestion for 15-20 years or more.
2. That most commuters currently inconvenienced by congestion will not be commuting over the bridges by the time this “solution” is constructed.
3. That even if council approves a smaller local bridge now, that decision will need to be reevaluated and a freeway-style bridge with far more greater impacts is likely to be the bridge design that is selected in the future. The bridge you vote for today will not be the bridge we get.
4. That the city and state will need to spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours of staff time pursuing a bridge alternative.
5. That if a bridge alternative is approved, the city will spend millions of dollars buying and demolishing homes and businesses, leaving devastated neighborhoods for decades. Look at the northeast quadrant of Market Street interchange for an example of what will happen to Edgewater and North Salem.
6. That the bridge alternatives may someday reduce congestion for some people crossing the river but will increase congestion to intolerable levels during rush hours between Salem and Keizer.
7. That over the last 40 years studies have identified at least four other ‘better’ locations for a bridge and that in 10 or 20 years a new council may decide that another location is better.
8. That the fixation on building a new bridge is preventing us from doing the seismic retrofits and other repair work needed on the existing bridges because it diverts limited funds and staff time.
9. That the city has lower cost ways to reduce congestion that could be implemented more quickly and for far less money.
10. That Salem’s Transportation System Plan predicts that the state and federal government will contribute less than 2 percent of the cost of a new bridge, so most of money will need to come from Salem residents.
11. That Salem’s Transportation System Plan predicts that the city will have only 37% of the money it needs for capital improvement projects over the next 20 years not counting a new bridge.
12. That the city and state have solutions to manage emergency bridge closures so that two-way traffic over the river can be maintained and emergency vehicles can use the Union Street Bridge if needed.
We can work together for real solutions to congestion, but this fixation on building a new bridge is preventing us from developing those solutions. It is time to let people know the truth about the third bridge. It is not going to solve the congestion problems we face today and it is diverting our energy from finding real solutions.
With appreciation for your service to our community,