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February 06, 2016


The current political reality is that Salem City Government treats the public like a nuisance.
The decision about whether to commit major resources to this project is not one that should be limited to experts or those who have a financial stake in its construction.
This decision should be made by a well informed public whose opinions should determine what Council's actions should be in this matter.
The public should be aware of many things but, since I expect that the forces of Council will continue to be mostly unstoppable (trees, historical buildings, irresponsible development, unchecked sign proliferation, etc.) perhaps the dissemination of the argument that the proposed bridge is really a part of the intrastate highway system and the city and county should, if the bridge is built, only be required to shoulder a small part of the costs - should be forcefully driven to the forefront of the opposition's efforts.

Kurt, there is already a funding plan for the 3rd Bridge in place that you can download from this web page: . It is hidden in the small print. Look for "Funding Strategy Memo." It indicates that only 10% of the $430 million cost of the 3rd Bridge would be paid from state and federal sources. The rest would be on us! To come up with the remaining 90% we would have to toll the Marion and Center Street bridges at $1.50 each way, and pay a 8¢ per gallon local gas tax, and pay a $25 annual car registration surcharge. The gas tax and surcharge would have to be paid by everyone in Polk and Marion Counties. In addition the plan includes a property tax increase (bond measure) for Salem residents. So there you have it. That's the plan. So, do you think it makes any sense to begin to buy up property as if this could actually happen? No way.

I absolutely do not think that it is right to begin buying up property. I thought that that is so clear that it goes without saying and was implied in my remarks. Spending public money for a major project that clearly may not happen is inescapable proof that public welfare is secondary to the goal of enriching certain sectors of our local economy.
Your explanation of why local support will be hard to get is thorough. When funding questions were first studied by the City, this conclusion became inescapable.
When Janet Taylor was first elected, she announced her commitment to the Enterprise Zone. A great deal of resources were expended and there has been a touch of tenancy, but it essentially goes unused. While the proposed bridge related seizures are different because of the disruption to the lives of innocent people (also, the Enterprise Zone may, for better or worse, become important in the local economy), it seems that, in both cases, the cart is being placed before the horse (while enriching cart builders and horse breeders that may benefit from the predictable overturning and breaking of horse legs).

Well I hate to sound like a broken record about connecting HWY 22 east and west, but but but but but but but...........

We won! The Council rejected this crazy idea last night on a unanimous vote. An outpouring of emails and excellent testimony by several concerned citizens did the trick. And it turns out the staff wanted to buy the old Stars Cabaret property for a half million. The Public Works Director reported that the property is about to be sold and developed. Trouble is, it is at the landing, on the west side of the river, of the mythical bridge. So the City probably wanted to bid up the price and take it away from a developer so it could remain vacant, probably for decades. Glad we headed off that stupid idea. The City should be promoting development in Highland, not trying to smother it.

I don't mind sounding like a broken record - people have such short memories.
The history of Hwy 22 planning provides a solid basis for the argument that the State (actually by using mostly federal dollars) should shoulder almost all of the costs for a 3rd bridge - should it come to pass.
The 1999 Highway Plan set the goal of connecting Bend to the Coast with a straight route through Salem that allowed for unimpeded, fast moving traffic. ODOT worked towards this goal for many years before eventually abandoning it.
Mission Street was actually classified as an expressway because it was supposed to be a part of this speedy route. Bush Park was seen as an insurmountable obstacle (the belief was that the feds would never give up any land within the park) and this had an effect on ODOT's dedication to work towards the overall goal. When the Meridian was built, the ballgame was essentially over.
Aside from the factors mentioned above, there was a recognition that sufficient funding would probably not be available because the area lacked political power and other projects were seen as being more deserving.
The history makes it apparent that the State recognizes its duty to fund the intrastate highway system. They have essentially been sitting on the sidelines hoping that nobody would ask them to "pony up" (although it seems that there was a recent statement that they would try to make a larger contribution to a 3rd bridge than what was originally discussed).
It is my opinion that making improvements to the current bridge (including seismic upgrades) is a more logical and attainable alternative than spending money we can't afford on a bridge we probably don't need.

Excellent post, Kurt!
In addition, we have to grasp a big chunk of reality:
Eventually, HWY-22 will flow at highway speed from west to east and east to west through or around Salem without dumping interstate and intrastate traffic and lost tourists flooding downtown Salem with congestion.
It either WILL happen, or Brian's vision of a bike friendly, open air cafe, open hula bar, etc.... WILL NEVER HAPPEN!
There is only one long term solution to Salem congestion and 3rd bridge sanity:
Connect HWY 22 east and west AROUND downtown Salem NOT through it!
I know Brian totally agrees. He is just being stubborn.

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