|Skagit River Bridge Collapse: Seattle Times|
|Marion St. Bridge = 29.7 rating; Skagit Bridge was 57.4|
Yesterday the Statesman came out with a draft for the Sunday editorial "lessons from the Skagit bridge collapse." Mostly it's about the Columbia River Crossing, but it talks about Salem, too. Or around Salem.
Last week’s freeway bridge collapse in Washington state illustrated the importance of pushing ahead with Oregon’s major bridge-construction projects, including the Columbia and Salem river crossings....The Alberta trucking company, which was transporting drilling-equipment housing from Canada to Vancouver, Wash., said it had the proper permits....Third bridge would benefit valley, coastThe Salem River Crossing also should be on the list of Oregon’s most-important projects. It would build the long-awaited third Willamette River traffic bridge in Salem.Critics have lambasted the proposed location, downriver from the Center and Marion street bridges, as too close in proximity to sufficiently ease West Salem traffic congestion. But this would be a regional bridge, not just for West Salem.
A few observations...The designed location would create the essential link to Highway 22 on the west while circumventing downtown Salem on the east. Since the late 19th century, the Polk County economy has blossomed whenever a Willamette River bridge was built or improved. That would be the case again.With its more-direct connection between Interstate 5 and Highway 22, the Salem River Crossing would be a tremendous economic asset to Polk and Yamhill counties and the coast, as well as to West Salem and the rest of the Salem area.And if either the Center or Marion street bridge were ever closed by an earthquake, or even a several-hour traffic problem, residents and businesses alike would be grateful for a new bridge built to modern seismic standards.
1) Did it register that the bridge collapse was a direct result of fossil fuel extraction? That's a tart irony, as many others have pointed out.
2) The draft editorial is not real strong on the benefits for Salem. Mostly it talks about how great it is for Polk County (see the red!). And how it "circumvents" downtown, like downtown is a problem to be avoided. If it's so great for the outlying areas, why is Salem slated to bear most of the cost?
3) Notwithstanding the claim that it would be a "regional" bridge, the paper on Monday observed that the bridge was benefiting development in West Salem - that it was a bridge for West Salem, not a regional bridge.
Some of the SRC hinges on decisions made decades ago, [Peter] Fernandez said, when planners aimed at preserving fertile farmlands east of Salem and set growth sights west. The largest chunk of Salem’s developable land within its Urban Growth Boundary is west of the Willamette.4) Yesterday's published article "Oregon's Bridges may be at Risk" fails to mention the condition of the Center and Marion St Bridges. (And it could be an institutional problem in reporting that the person who wrote a story on them in 2007 did not also write yesterday's follow-up.) Salem also has several smaller bridges that have deferred maintenance and replacement needs. What about them?
|Oops! Forgot about "structurally deficient" Marion St Bridge|
It's not gonna happen, of course, but the paper has yet to think critically about the nature of the actual set of problems and the return on investment, including opportunity costs, for the proposed giant bridge and highway.
If it did, it would have to mount an actual argument over why preservation and maintenance shouldn't be prioritized over new construction and expansion; why transit, staggered work schedules, and smaller construction projects shouldn't be preferred over new construction and expansion - generally why a host of smaller projects and solutions, a suite of conservative solutions, would not be better than a megaproject. That case has not been made or even attempted.
This is a sham - and a shame.