Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Overlooked Details Should Doom Third Bridge

In an editorial today, the paper responds to the National Transportation Safety Board findings that a "cascading series of bad decisions led to last year’s collapse of an Interstate 5 bridge north of Seattle."

Well, we're well on our way with our own "cascading series of bad decisions" about a bridge and there's little or no self-awareness about the irony.

The Marion and Center Street Bridges are not reinforced to withstand a big quake, and the proposed Salem Alternative is at the moment conceptually outlined to withstand only a medium quake.

There is no plan right now for connectivity across the river after the Big Bad Cascadian Subduction Zone quake.

If you survive, you'll be wanting a kayak!

The "big one" will have effects, all over the city and state, that dwarf the significance of the collapse of the Skagit River Bridge when a driver with a too-tall load hit the structure.

That seems like a pretty significant detail now doesn't it?

Our Urban Growth Boundary and statewide land use laws also suggest the Salem Alternative is a bad idea.

But planners are trying to get around this. In a comment on a Salem Weekly story, City Staff said that
The City had actually requested this letter from the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) to assist in initiating the required land use approvals for the Salem River Crossing project....City staff were appreciative of the letter from DLCD, which was very helpful and clearly laid out the options for obtaining local land use approvals. Contrary to your headline, the letter neither stated nor implied that the project does not meet state regulations for land use.
You say tomahtoh, I say tomaytoh...I guess.

The letter itself describes "the two paths available for the required land use actions related to a transportation facility, one is the UGB expansion with a Goal 15 exception and the other is the Goal Exceptions path."

At least in the opinion of the DLCD, Salem Alternative requires "exceptions" to major parts of our law and policy, and if the project were to move forward with out these "exceptions," it would be illegal and subject to lawsuit.

I think this plainly means the project as proposed "does not meet state regulations for land use." If it did meet those regulations, no exceptions would be necessary!

It is tiresome now to list all the other bad decisions or misleading conclusions behind the project. But there's a lot of them!

(More about the land use exceptions here. More on seismic stuff here and here. Most of the overlooked details are summarized here. And N3B is also drilling into some of the details on the land use.)

1 comment:

Jim Scheppke said...

At the last Salem River Crossing Oversite Team meeting one of the members asked the ODOT reps about where they were in planning to retrofit the Marion and Center Street bridges to hopefully survive The Big One. An ODOT person said they were in the process of prioritizing this work across the state and that before too long we might know where or bridges rank on the list. Our elected officials need to engage with ODOT to make sure at least one of our bridges ranks highly and is scheduled for a retrofit in the near future. West Salem can't afford to be cut off from our only hospital. It was encouraging that this question was asked at a Salem River Crossing meeting.