Earlier this week, CFM Strategic Communications briefed the Marion County Board of Commissioners on the status of projects and funding in Washington, DC. (See video, this part of the presentation starts at about 37:30.)
|Preparing the way for an ask of $430 million for the SRC|
Unsurprisingly, one of them is a proposal for an earmark or allocation of $430 million, basically to fund the whole of the Third Bridge.
About 8 minutes into the presentation, it's true that CFM admitted the Salem River Crossing was "not quite ready for prime time, not quite ready for an application," as of course that can't formally proceed until there's a "Formal Record of Decision," which at the moment is not scheduled until the spring of 2017.
But you see the lobbying, preparing the groundwork. N3B had reported back in February that the Mayor was lobbying Representative Schrader for Federal help, and this is clearly an extension of that.
So as criticism of the Third Bridge has sometimes focused on the lack of a realistic funding plan, it is important to consider that if money were suddenly to appear, if the Feds decided on a large infrastructure program, and they did not also commit to a "fix it first" philosophy, and were instead lured by shiny new infrastructure projects, then funding the Salem River Crossing might start being a real possibility.
So from here it has seemed best to base criticism of the bridge on the fact that it is a bad idea, on the merits (or lack thereof), not that it was too expensive and "we can't afford it." Even if we could afford it, the proposed bridge and highway is harmful and wasteful.
If we base criticism principally on the expense, once it is no longer "expensive," then there may not be adequate basis for any other critique.
Other Notes on Priorities
It is also interesting that the slide for 2016 doesn't show any "ask" for seismic retrofits, doesn't show much about climate change or greenhouse gas reduction beyond the "concerns" about a "waste-to-energy" program. (Or anything for biking and walking, for that matter.) If earthquakes and climate change are two huge and likely catastrophes we know about, the legislative priority is silent on them.
Though it's not something we will pursue here, it should be noted also that CFM is apparently doing lobbying for the City of Salem, for Cherriots, and for the County. This consolidation and leverage is great for CFM, but it may not be great for the citizenry.