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.
Note: two. You can count them in the photo above. The third bridge on the left is the Union Street pedestrian bridge, though it can be used for emergency vehicles.
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?
The facebook page is hilarious. (In a very tea-party voice): "Salem Bridge Solutions is just a bunch of selfish welfare queens who want all of the rest of the hard working citizens of our city to shell out millions and millions of our hard earned tax dollars to make their lives easier and pay for the mistakes they made"
Posted by: salemander | June 09, 2017 at 05:08 AM
I'm new to salem, but honestly I can't figure out why you're so opposed to adding a bridge. Yes the cost is high, but EVERY TIME I want to go to points west of Salem, I am stuck on that G-D bridge. it's nightmarish to merge and a pain in the butt to sit and sit and sit. I see that adding lanes to both bridges could be a solution, but we definitely need SOME solution. Tolls are only one way to pay for bridges - what about actually paying for parking in downtown? That would generate a lot of income, I'd imagine.
Posted by: dermott | June 14, 2017 at 09:44 AM
I have lived in West Salem right at the added lane on Glen Creek since 1975. The Idea that while home building in the hundreds and new apartments are on the agenda Wallace Road is grid locked every day during peak hours. I nearly get run over trying to get in and out of my driveway. I am retired so I can choose the time I wish to drive out for the most part, but this I know. Every person who gets a new drivers license will have a car - every family will have 2 or more cars. Unless the prospect of flying cars is in the 20 year plan - WE NEED ANOTHER BRIDGE. i DON'T KNOW THE DETAILS OF IT but it has been studied spending thousands of dollars already. Why aren't we smart enough to figure out a solution. And while we are at it why not finish the re-surfacing project on the Center Street Bridge. Count me as a selfish welfare queen. Give us a solution.
Posted by: Betty Derricott | June 30, 2017 at 09:46 AM
Talk about fact-free propaganda, Your rant brings nothing of value to the table. In the first place, a span does not necessarily equal a bridge. A bridge supposes enabling people/traffic to go back and forth across the obstacle. So, in fact there is only one vehicular bridge encompassing two spans. Now, if Salem and ODOT decided to change vehicle flow on Center and Marion streets to accommodate 2-way traffic (this would also require changes to at least Commercial, Liberty, and High streets) as well as the approaches on Hwy 22 and Wallace Rd. on the west side (not likely "relatively low-cost" regardless of what anyone says), one could more honestly say there are two vehicular bridges. In the second place, adding a lane to each span will actually do little to alleviate traffic issues since neither the surface streets on both sides of the river nor Hwy 22 between Wallace Rd and Rosewood (not Rosemont) by Capital Manor can be modified to accommodate the additional lanes without dramatic destruction of property, especially downtown. Even then such changes are not worth the cost. While the bottom line amount might be less than that of an additional bridge, there is no way that the return on investment (ROI) comes close to the value of the new bridge crossing the river from the Parkway.
Posted by: Davis Dyer | July 18, 2017 at 05:45 PM
Frankly I see not comparison to the current bridge issue and the southern "wall" proposed by President Trump and see no value in unnecessarily facilitating and spreading political division. Fracturing doesn't help your cause. I got an email by your Bridge Solutions group and came to get the other side, not feel threatened, frustrated or drawn into another issue altogether by bad attitude. So to the point, did ODOT rate the bridges, Center St and Marion St, as functionally obsolete? If so, and probably either way, and without need of and before visiting your "snarky" blog, I recommended to Rep. Schrader, the reinforcement and possibly widening of each as you suggest. Just sayin,' I have been an Oregon resident for all of my 62 years, am well educated AND rural by choice, and we are not all dumb, lacking common-sense or led astray. In fact, the problem of over-crowding on the Salem bridges was not a big issue and well managed prior to 2014-15. So before you decide "snarky" is "in" maybe you should ask yourselves, How long have you lived here? Where are you from? and Why didn't you leave the hurtful, unproductive attitude where you came from, when you came here to start a new, better life?
Posted by: Vickie | January 29, 2018 at 09:35 AM
Vicki, I moved to Salem in 1977. So I've been here for 41 years. I don't have a "hurtful, unproductive" attitude. I want to make Salem a better place to live, just as I did when I moved here from Portland many years ago.
The Center Street bridge is slated to be seismically reinforced so it will stand up in a major earthquake. So that takes away one reason for a new bridge. And the Salem City Council has voted to work on various ways to reduce rush hour congestion without building a new bridge. That should take away the other main reason to build a Third Bridge.
So what is the reason for spending half a billion dollars, or much more with financing costs and inflation, on a Third Bridge? I can't think of a reason.
Posted by: Brian Hines | January 29, 2018 at 10:24 AM
Do you even make the crossing regularly? The idea that Edgewater and Wallace could just handle more traffic from an additional lane on each side of the bridge is insane.
Ignoring that, trying to shoehorn in crazy national political issues into this discussion is misguided if not outright lying. Public works projects are a cornerstone of liberal policy. It's the average person living in Salem that would gain by a new bridge being built, not moneyed interests and corporations. You can't seriously think the level of need is similar between some idiotic wall on the border and a bridge across the river in town unless you have literally never been to west salem in your life.
Posted by: Caleb | February 05, 2019 at 02:25 PM