A bill in the Oregon legislature seems like a backdoor way to get a Third Bridge built in Salem. At least, that's how I and quite a few others view HB 2974.
HB 2974 is sponsored by Rep. Paul Evans, who I usually agree with. But after I read the following email message from a group opposed to the bill, I became convinced that HB 2974 is a bad idea.
One big reason: four people elected to a Special Bridge District, plus an ODOT representative, would get to increase the taxes of everybody in Marion, Polk, Linn, and Yamhill counties -- without the people in those counties getting to vote on whether they wanted to pay for whatever new bridge those five people dreamed up. Or, whether they'd ever use the bridge.
If you agree HB 2974 is a bad idea, send in testimony opposing the bill as soon as possible, since a hearing on the bill is scheduled for next Monday, April 1, 3 pm, Hearing Room C, before the House Committee on Rules.
The email address for the committee is: [email protected]
Read on for why you should oppose HB 2974.
HB 2974 is a bill from Representative Evans that attempts to get around the City of Salem's recent decision regarding a 3rd bridge across the Willamette River. It was just scheduled for a hearing and possible work session in the House Rules Committee this Monday, April 1, at 3:00 pm.
The Rules Committee members need to hear from as many people as possible ASAP in opposition to the bill, and people need to show up in person to testify against the bill this Monday.
HB 2974 authorizes formation of a bridge district in the Salem area, consisting of Linn, Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties. The bridge district would have the authority to levy property taxes to plan, finance, construct, operate, and maintain bridges over Willamette River in the Salem region. The district board would consist of four members, one elected from each of the four counties and one member representing the Department of Transportation.
Here's why this bill is NOT needed:
- It overrides the recent decision of the Salem City Council after years of thoughtful debate.
- Some locations for a bridge that have been discussed would adversely impact the most valuable farmland in the state.
- The Bridge District will have the authority to tax property owners in 4 counties, most of whom will never use the bridge during the hours of congestion.
- If tolling is also required to pay for the bridge, drivers will travel another route to avoid the cost, which means all other neighboring bridges will also need to be tolled
- We are trying to reduce our dependence on traffic throughout the region, and adding another route will merely increase that traffic volume.
- Building another bridge and more road miles will increase driving, adding to greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the opposite directing Oregonians want to go.
- The project is estimated to cost more than $400 million, and therefore consume all or most local transportation investment dollars.
- ODOT and the City of Salem need to come together to solve the congestion, which occurs only at rush hour times or during infrequent cases of emergency.
- Instead, actions such as improved ramp and traffic control measures at the feet of the current bridges, must be taken.
- Seismic retrofits of the existing bridges are much cheaper than building a new bridge.