The editorial board hasn't yet engaged facts or strong claims like:
- traffic is flat on the bridges
- the proposed location is in a liquefaction zone and the existing bridges aren't reinforced for the "big one" earthquake
- driving is harmful to cities and to individuals
- funds for a mega-project might be better allocated to different things
Anyway, things that are popular aren't always good - by itself that's not a controversial claim, right? History's littered with popular things we later learn are bad or dumb or evil.
There are also other problems here.
1) "Although the federal government likely will provide significant funding...."
|Official River Crossing FAQ on Funding:|
"Will the state and feds...pay for the project? No"
2) "Salem is unusual among major river-based cities in having only one main bridge link..."
|Rome and Salem, separated by rivers, at the same scale|
(click to enlarge images!)
Here's a side-by-side clip of Rome separated by the Tiber and Salem separated by the Willamette.
It's astonishing to think how much more dense is Rome and how the patterns of foot traffic in antiquity called for a very different approach to mobility across the river. It's also interesting how much of the riverfront we have not developed, reserving it for park land and industry and private residence.
Salem has one crossing because of an hour-glass or waist in the middle of two much wider flood plains, across which very long spans would be required. Salem's river crossing is dictated by geography, not primitivity, and our centrifugal development patterns conform to the logic of cars. We've screwed ourselves.
But if a third bridge was easy and obvious and useful here, we would have built one already! Maybe we should work what we've got rather than try to be what we're not.
More close-in redevelopment and less low-density development on the edges would be a good start.
3) "No one can predict how travel will change in the years before the third bridge is built. Neither do we know whether the project will prove financially feasible. But it would be foolish to sit still instead of planning as best we can."
Here's the most important one, at least from the perspective here.
|Not a crazy Liberal: Hank Paulson, Jr at podium, via Wikipedia|
THERE is a time for weighing evidence and a time for acting. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my work in finance, government and conservation, it is to act before problems become too big to manage.
For too many years, we failed to rein in the excesses building up in the nation’s financial markets. When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. Millions suffered. Many still do.
We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked.
This is a crisis we can’t afford to ignore. I feel as if I’m watching as we fly in slow motion on a collision course toward a giant mountain. We can see the crash coming, and yet we’re sitting on our hands rather than altering course.
We need to act now, even though there is much disagreement, including from members of my own Republican Party, on how to address this issue while remaining economically competitive. They’re right to consider the economic implications. But we must not lose sight of the profound economic risks of doing nothing.
The solution can be a fundamentally conservative one that will empower the marketplace to find the most efficient response. We can do this by putting a price on emissions of carbon dioxide — a carbon tax. Few in the United States now pay to emit this potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere we all share. Putting a price on emissions will create incentives to develop new, cleaner energy technologies.
But there's one good thing in the Statesman editorial.
although tolls are rare in the Pacific Northwest, they are an accepted part of travel in much of the United States. Many drivers, especially of commercial vehicles, gladly pay a small toll to avoid congestion and quickly arrive at their destination.The paper should embrace a campaign to toll the bridges now. Operating with pricing signals in the same way as a carbon tax, tolls would better allocate existing capacity, provide funds for the seismic reinforcement of the existing bridges, and demonstrate that we don't actually need a new giant bridge and highway.