Friday, September 2, 2011

KMUZ and a Tale of Two Bridges

Dang! It's September already. One of the things that's supposed to happen this month is the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Rivercrossing project. Somehow I wouldn't be surprised if that got delayed again. The fiscal, political, and planning climate for the Columbia Rivercrossing has changed a lot, and it's hard to imagine these factors are not also affecting the Salem Rivercrossing.

The project also comes to mind because of the outrage the Minto bridge seemed to attract from some when City Council voted to fund a "loss of use" agreement and at the same time declined to fund a much smaller allocation for KMUZ.

For some the approved payment to boat operators seemed targeted at narrow interests, and the declined payment for radio would have benefited the entire community. Some felt there was a wild disproportion in benefit and return on investment. Things have cooled off, happily, but it seemed like the matter might be worth revisiting.

The Statesman published an editorial that did a pretty good job of explaining the benefit, and the City has issued an amplifying statement, so I don't want to argue here for that bridge.

I hope that KMUZ supporters who don't already bike will realize we are on the same team! More biking and walking and parks fun and more community radio are all good things for Salem.

Instead, I want to show KMUZ supporters the bridge they really ought to worry about. Here's something that will lame Salem, let me tell you.

The Minto Bridge will cost about $5M. This bridge will cost over $500M.

There's a lot of good community stuff you could do with half-a-billion!

This half billion bridge will encourage sprawl. This bridge will increase greenhouse gases. This bridge will tear up neighborhoods, especially the Grant and Highland neighborhoods. Think about the interruption I-5 creates between Lancaster and the central city. If KMUZ is about community, this bridge is the opposite of community.

Interestingly, even the project team understands something about the adverse outcomes. Here negative outcomes are in yellow and red. There's not much green! (And it's even neutral on the central and obvious category, "transportation." Who thinks we should spend $500M for neutral??? Click all images to enlarge.)

Another of the proposed alignments would significantly harm the riverfront, parks, and Union St. RR Bridge.

There's no need for a massive highway style bridge. People are driving less. But transportation planning is premised on every increasing car mileage. There are much better solutions to mobility in Salem than building more highways and big roads.

So here's a plea to community-minded advocates for KMUZ: We need to work together to make Salem a better place. And here's a real bridge to fuss over, not the Minto bridge.

For more on the Minto bridge, see the City's micro-site here.

And don't forget about a bike show! Check out the KBOO bike show and if it inspires you sign up to be a DJ on KMUZ!

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