A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post, "Help stop HB 2974, a Third Bridge taxing scheme." Here's part of what I said about this bill proposed by state Representative Paul Evans.
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.
[Note: proposed amendments to HB 2974 add Benton County to the counties comprising the bridge district, remove the ODOT representative, and sunset the district in 2024 if a bridge district hasn't been formed by then.]
Now I've got some blogging company, since a post on the Salem Breakfast on Bikes blog notes that HB 2974 is being looked at by the City Council's legislative committee. Here's what the post said:
On the Rep. Evans Bridge District idea, one item especially in the analysis might give us pause. It seems to suggest that it's not at all out of the question that the District might try to site a bridge in Salem again.
It had seemed like the District was an attempt to gather support for something more like a bridge at Wheatland Ferry.But this note makes it look more like it might be a bad-faith end-run around City Council's decision on the SRC.
Between the problems of property tax compression, the fact that any new bridge will induce traffic and add to greenhouse gas emissions, and adding another layer of regional government or governmental entity - all these together suggest the Bridge District idea should be approached very cautiously and critically.
I've heard that Rep. Evans didn't like that some opponents of HB 2974 were worried that this was a backdoor way to get around the Salem City Council's decision to kill the Salem River Crossing project.
But I agree with the Breakfast on Bikes blogger: it sure looks like a Third Bridge at the same location as that project proposed could be brought back to life by the Special Bridge District.
Hopefully HB 2974 won't move forward in the Oregon legislature. Most of those who testified at HB 2974's first, and so far only, hearing were opposed to the bill according to a Salem Reporter story. Excerpt:
The prospect of a new governing body empowered to build bridges drew more opposition than support at a public hearing on Monday.
House Bill 2974 would allow voters in Marion, Polk, Yamhill and Benton counties to create a special district to oversee bridge planning, maintenance and funding. Board members would be elected and any taxes would go before voters.
Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth, pitched the idea mere days after Salem City Council in February effectively ended the Salem River Crossing, a long-proposed bridge across the Willamette River, by a 6-to-3 vote.
During an hour-long public hearing at the House Rules Committee, witnesses mostly opposed the idea over economic, environmental and logistical concerns.
Sid Friedman, a Yamhill County resident, said the district would only offer one solution when more are needed.
“We do have transportation issues, I think we all recognize that, but this bridge district would only be looking at one solution — a new bridge, or bridges — instead of taking a more comprehensive look and saying ‘Here’s what we truly need to address our transportation issues,’” he said.
Bob Cortright, a West Salem resident, said the proposal would add another transportation body to an area with no shortage of governing bodies, like the Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study, the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Mid-Willamette Valley Area Commission on Transportation.