The Powers That Be in Salem who love wasting taxpayer money on special interest projects have set up a new lobbying group for the Billion Dollar Boondoggle known as the Salem River Crossing, or Third Bridge.
After browsing through the Salem Bridge Solutions Facebook page and web site, it seems clear that their main rationale for wanting to foist $1.50 each-way tolls on citizens, plus increases in the local gas tax, vehicle registration fees, and property taxes, can be summed up as...
We want a new bridge! Badly. Waaaaahhhhh! We're going to cry and fuss until we get one!
By contrast, the No 3rd Bridge folks are committed to an old-fashioned mature idea: facts matter.
Their Facebook page is filled with posts that link to information demolishing the ridiculous idea that building a $430 million new bridge (billion dollars, or thereabout, with financing costs) is the most cost-effective way to solve problems with the two current vehicular bridges.
But Salem Bridge Solutions apparently doesn't realize that the Marion and Center Street bridges are separate, because their misleading propaganda talks about Salem only having one bridge across the Willamette.
This false statement is on their home page. I've boldfaced the "alternative facts." (Donald Trump and Kellyanne Conway would be so proud of these guys.)
Currently, the entire Salem region depends on a single bridge crossing the Willamette River in the downtown area. As Salem has expanded and grown in population, the dependence on a single bridge to connect the whole of Polk and Marion Counties is becoming increasingly costly, inconvenient and problematic. Salem Bridge Solutions is a grassroots political group that believes another bridge connecting Polk County and Marion County should be a priority for the region.
With some relatively low-cost bridgehead modifications, I've been told that the current two vehicular bridges could have lanes (or even the entire bridge) going in the opposite direction in an emergency, or perhaps even regularly at rush hour times.
Also, adding a lane to each of the two existing bridges would be much cheaper than building a new billion dollar bridge that likely would have only one lane in each direction -- which is Mayor Bennett's favorite bridge design.
Here's something else that leapt out at me when I perused the Build It Now petition on the Salem Bridge Solutions web site. The petition claims that local bridge commuters spend 172 hours a year stuck in traffic. Which would be more than double what Los Angeles area commuters waste in traffic annually: 78 hours according to CNBC, 81 hours according to CNN.
My daughter and her family have lived in or near Los Angeles for quite a few years. Since I regularly experience LA traffic when my wife and I visit them, I find it difficult to believe that the congestion problem across Salem's two bridges is more than twice as bad as what LA commuters put up with.
And since the Salem Bridge Solutions group doesn't believe in using facts to support their "We want a bridge, now!" cry-baby argument, there's no way to check how the questionable 172 hours a year figure for Salem was arrived at.
My guess is... by guessing.
Bottom line: don't be taken in by the fact-free B.S. being spread by Salem Bridge Solutions. Salem doesn't need a third vehicular bridge across the Willamette.
That Billion Dollar Boondoggle is planned to be build on a wide floodplain subject to liquefaction when the next Big One earthquake hits. A much more cost-effective alternative is to seismically retrofit the two current bridges, improve their on- and off-connections, and possibly add a lane to each existing bridge.
A few days ago No 3rd Bridge aptly compared Trump's Border Wall and Salem Bridge Solutions.
WHAT DO "SALEM BRIDGE SOLUTIONS" AND TRUMP WALL ENTHUSIASTS HAVE IN COMMON?
There is a new Chamber of Commerce-funded "astroturf" (fake grassroots) group called Salem Bridge Solutions that is making a lot of noise lately. We think that they have a lot in common with people who support our President's crazy border wall idea. What do you think?