OK, maybe its not a good idea to title this blog post after a 2000 stoner movie, given that most of my readers here in Salem, Oregon haven't had the cinematic experience of being wasted and unable to find their car.
But it just seemed so freaking appropriate after No 3rd Bridge and Breakfast on Bikes shared how the unneeded, unwanted, and unpaid-for proposed new bridge across the Willamette River has become nearly unrecognizable after someone -- consultants?...tooth fairy?...who knows? -- markedly altered the "Salem Alternative" design approved unanimously by the City Council.
Where did the Salem Alternative go? Somebody at the City needs to put out a missing bridge alert. It could be wandering around lost in some scary wasteland, like Keizer Station.
All we know is that the Salem City Council handed over this precious bridge design, so cute and cuddly!, to the bridge Oversight Team on June 24 of this year. And that the Oversight Team only held one meeting between then and a meeting on October 31.
The Salem Alternative was safe and secure at that July 31 meeting.
Just as the Salem City Council approved it. A nice small, local, unobtrusive (well, as much as a 3,200 foot long bridge can be that's twice as long as the Brooklyn Bridge) river crossing.
Two lanes in each direction. Grade level entry and exit. No giant concrete freeway'ish overpasses. "Signature" attractive design. Minimal piers in the river for cleaner look and less flooding risk.
Well, between June 24 and October 31, when the Oversight Team met again, somebody did away with the Salem Alternative and substituted a new and unimproved design.
Maybe they thought nobody would notice. After all, we're only talking $400 to $600 million here. Plus displacing homeowners and businesses. And asking Salem-area citizens to pay for virtually the whole damn thing.
Have a look, thanks to the Breakfast on Bikes blog:
The "Salem Alternative" analysis that the Oversight Team saw on October 31st doesn't much look like a "local" bridge! It seems to have grown and looks more like the giant bridge and highway of 4D again.
|Salem Alternative over McLane Island, from top blue rule:
Bike lane, 3 auto travel lanes, sidewalk;
sidewalk, 3 auto travel lanes, bike lane.
(It's also possible the lane between the blue and red is a MUP,
and there is no separate sidewalk.)
No more "signature" arch design. Lots of piers have reappeared in the water. Lanes have multiplied. Overpasses will whisk trucks and other I-5 traffic to the coast (maybe a few will even think "This is Salem, isn't it?" as they zoom through the half-billion dollar concrete monument).
Amazingly, so far nobody from the City of Salem seems concerned that the Salem Alternative design so much praised by city officials has fallen prey to unknown bridgenappers. Councillor Dan Clem either was sleeping or uncaring at the October 31 unveiling of the Salem Alternative replacement.
So says No 3rd Bridge.
It is really a stretch to call the 3rd bridge plan that the Oversight Team reviewed at their meeting on Halloween the Salem Alternative.
It differs in many ways from the plan that the Salem City Council voted for on June 24th.
A key element of the original Salem Alternative was the idea of a "signature bridge" — something that would be nice to look at as well as minimizing piers in the Willamette River downstream from the core of Salem that would increase our flooding problems.
That bridge is gone. What was presented on Halloween was what the CH2M HILL consultant called "a lesser bridge" ... "a girder style bridge."
Councilor Clem, who is supposed to be representing the Salem City Council on the Oversight Team, didn't raise any objections to this. Why not?
When the plan comes back to the Salem City Council for their sign-off in the next few months they should reject it as not being the Salem Alternative that they spent many months to develop. It's a bait and switch. It's 4D Lite.
I also noted a Tweet by Councillor Diana Dickey that reflected a no big deal attitude toward what No 3rd Bridge accurately called a bait and switch game.
It's not the Salem Alternative, but gives Marion County residents another way to get across the Willamette River...
Opposition to this hugely expensive third bridge has been intense. The Salem City Council tried to defuse opponents through assurances that the Salem Alternative was the city's commitment to a local, minimal, attractive option to the freeway'ish 4-D design.
"Trust us," they said, before voting 9-0 to approve the Salem Alternative. Now it looks like political cynics were correct. There was never a sincere commitment to the Salem Alternative by the Mayor, City Manager, Public Works Director, and City Councillors.
They just hoped to defuse opposition to the bridge boondoggle by coming up with a temporary "kinder and gentler" bridge design, knowing that this would be discarded in the next phase of the planning process.
Dickey is wrong. Those pushing for a new bridge don't really care about congestion on the current bridges, or aiding local residents to move between west and east Salem. They want a giant freeway-like regional bridge, albeit one paid for by local dollars.
Why? You'll have to ask the Powers That Be -- the ones who are causing the question to be asked, "Dude, where's the Salem Alternative bridge?"
But even though it is said, money talks, I suspect it won't be easy to get a straight answer from the people pushing for a unnecessary $400-600 million tax on local residents to pay for a bridge they don't want, don't need, and can't afford.
Bridgenappers, like kidnappers, usually don't show their faces.