Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Salem River Crossing: Sandy and what $687 Million might Buy

If we were told that a catastrophic natural disaster was going to happen in the next 50 years, but we didn't know what it would be or when it would come, and area residents decided to come up with $30 million a year for 20 30 years and we could choose how to allocate it - would we spend it on a bridge and highway?  Or would we use it on other things?

Maybe you've seen stories about the evacuation of NYU Langone Medical Center, where backup generators failed Monday night, and all patients had to be evacuated to other hospitals.
[A]pproximately 1,000 hospital staffers (doctors, nurses, residents, and medical students), along with firefighters and police officers, carried some 260 patients down 15 flights of stairs, in the dark, with flashlights, to ambulances that transported them to other area hospitals.
The patients included four newborns "on respirators that were breathing for them, and when the power went out, each baby was carried down nine flights of stairs while a nurse manually squeezed a bag to deliver air to the baby's lungs."

1964 Flood, Evacuating Salem Hospital
In the 1964 flood, Salem Hospital had to be evacuated.  The National Guard had to be called in.

Unlike in New York City, only one hospital serves Salem.

January's flood almost reached the hospital.

Pringle Community Hall, behind Hospital
It also nearly took out the Winter Street Bridge, and flooding threatened the Mission Street bridge over Pringle Creek..

Winter Street Bridge - Open for Bikes
Fortunately, bikes could get through, and as we are seeing in New York City, roads, bridges, and rail are damaged, bikes just might be the best form of emergency transportation.

Temporary Repairs, Winter Street Bridge, Summer 2012
$4 million total to repair
Back in August, Council received an update on the flood damages: $4 million alone for the Winter Street bridge and $8.5 million total so far.

When the big Cascadia Subduction Zone quake hits, or when we get deeper flooding made more frequent and more severe by climate change, not only will our single hospital be at risk, there's a huge amount of critical transportation infrastructure at risk.  Salem has around 100 bridges, big and small. 

In a world of limited budgets and resources, a world in which we are not able to maintain what we already have, is spending almost billion dollars on a new highway and bridge the wisest thing to do?

The NO 3rd Bridge Briefing is on Sunday, November 4th at 3 p.m. in the Anderson A meeting room at the Salem Public Library.

For more on the River Crossing see a summary critique and all breakfast blog notes tagged River Crossing.


Anonymous said...

$30.7 mil over 30 years, not 20.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks! Updated with correction.