The Salem Bridge Solutions group is big on talking about building a half-billion dollar Third Bridge across the Willamette, but so far their actions are kind of puny.
A Statesman Journal editorial, "Group urges community to complete city survey on traffic congestion," included some brave words from Salem Bridge Solutions.
The SBS group's co-founders, Mike and Craig Evans, believe this survey, which runs through March 10, is a good way to capture every idea out there.
But make no mistake. This group of third-bridge supporters that dresses in lime-green T-shirts and plants pro-bridge signs in West Salem front lawns is determined that the Salem River Crossing bridge will get built.
And they're not willing to wait another dozen years for it.
This group is fighting with a grass-roots advocacy the city has not seen in recent memory, and we applaud their activism.
SBS members are not content with the current makeup of the Salem City Council, which is stacked against building a third bridge, and they are making it a priority to replace bridge opponents.
Well, if they want to change the makeup of the City Council, which currently consists of five members opposed to building a new bridge and four bridge supporters, they're going to need to defeat at least one of the city councilors opposed to a new bridge.
But in the 2018 election cycle, Salem Bridge Solutions took a pass on finding someone to run against Councilors Tom Andersen and Chris Hoy, who are running unopposed.
So I guess replacing bridge opponents really isn't a priority for Salem Bridge Solutions and the Evans brothers, or they'd be backing up their words with political action. They like to talk about how much Salem residents supposedly want a Third Bridge, but if this actually was the case, why didn't they find pro-bridge candidates to run against Andersen and Hoy?
(Maybe because the last five City Council races have been won by councilors who oppose a new bridge: Tom Andersen, Cara Kaser, Sally Cook, Chris Hoy, and Matt Ausec.)
Salem Bridge Solutions is focusing on trying to hold the Ward 8 seat currently held by Jim Lewis, who is facing a strong challenge from Micki Varney.
Varney, who is backed by Progressive Salem, isn't opposed to a Third Bridge. She just recognizes reality: since there is no final land use decision for the Salem River Crossing owing to an adverse legal decision that can't be rectified given the current composition of the City Council, the bridge's Environmental Impact Statement can't be finalized.
Without the Environmental Impact Statement, the bridge can't be built. Also, without at least half a billion dollars the bridge can't be built, and there's no funding in sight for it from either the state or federal government.
It's unfortunate that Salem Bridge Solutions isn't telling the truth about Micki Varney's position on a Third Bridge. Their Facebook page contains this falsehood from Mike Evans:
No, Micki Varney doesn't oppose the bridge. She is in favor of working on other ways to reduce rush hour congestion in the downtown area, because it's clear that a Third Bridge can't be built in the foreseeable future.
A letter to the editor in the Statesman Journal, "Council candidate Varney not opposed to third bridge," correctly states Varney's position on a new bridge.
Fake news has leeched its way into the race for Ward 8 of the Salem City Council.
The fake news says candidate Micki Varney opposes building a third bridge.
Snopes would call this false because truth be told, Micki supports building a third bridge. She even supports the idea of fourth bridge should West Salem grow enough to need one.
The fake news is based on the fact that Micki recognizes it could be 10, or even 20 years, before a third bridge could be built, and she doesn’t want Salem residents to have to wait that long to solve congestion problems.
So Micki has devised an eight-point, traffic-congestion reduction plan that would be affordable and achievable within the next four years.
Examples (from her plan) include: building Marine Drive to divert traffic from Wallace Road NW and adding an additional lane to the current bridges when they’re retrofitted to survive earthquakes.
Bottom line: Micki supports affordable short-term solutions to traffic congestion, and she’s cool with building a third bridge (and someday maybe even a fourth one).
Anyone who says Micki opposes building a third bridge is dishing out fake news.