Third Bridge - Rivercrossing

Active from 2006 to 2019, the Salem River Crossing was a proposal and process for a highway bridge between Hope Ave. NW and the Pine/Hickory NE couplet with an on-ramp system and connections to the Salem Parkway and OR-22.

It's a highway bridge, for highway speeds and dust
not for pleasant walking
Here is the general scale and footprint (though in some details this has been superseded).

You can see a very large (12mb) map here of the "Salem Alternative."  Additional notes here.

This will be updated from time to time and generally goes newest to oldest in descending order.

2020 Attempted Zombie Action - May 2020

With the results of the May 19th Election, Salemites decisively rejected the slate of candidates for City Council who ran on a platform to restart the SRC - and used lots of greenwash to try to justify it.
Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision - end of September 2019

On September 24th, FHWA published the formal Record of Decision for the No Build option, ending the SRC. (As a zombie, it is likely to be reanimated in a different form, however!)

LUBA Remand and Congestion Relief Task Force (Earlier in 2019)

On February 11th, Council voted 6-3 not to complete the land use actions necessary for the "Preferred Alternative." This sets in motion a final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision for the "No Build" alternative.

After the Land Use Board of Appeals remanded the land use and urban growth boundary decisions back to City Council (see just below for more on that), for most of 2017 and 2018 the current City Council did not have the appetite to schedule a new round of formal Public Hearings and to revisit the decision.

The most recent schedule (May 2018) has lots of TBD
In May, the SRC team finally published a new schedule that at least obliquely recognized the LUBA remand, and equally obliquely recognized that there is at present no path to a Record of Decision other than for a "no build" conclusion (supported by 7 of 20 members on the original Task Force it should be remembered). It was all very open-ended with the "to be determined" bits, but finally there was no more of the charade with actual dates.

At the same time, news of a blown deadline emerged. Some of the funding for the Environmental Impact Statement came with an expiration date, and we missed it. At the MPO, pro-bridge advocates sought to leverage this and pressure Salem City Council for action. On November 26th, Council considered a motion brought by Councilor Lewis to restart the process. A substitute motion by Councilor Andersen was adopted instead, and Council will hold a formal Work Session on the SRC. Because the process in late 2016 (see section below on UGB analysis) was rushed and guided to a pre-determined outcome, Councilor Andersen writes:
Council had not had any work session or even any real discussion about the facts surrounding the bridge (as opposed to emotional arguments)....there has been no real public or council education as to the real facts concerning the bridge and its effects on not just the issues in my motion, but on other aspects....A work session will provide much needed transparency by evincing the actual facts surrounding the bridge.
The Work Session is intended to remedy that defect in the previous "process."

Here is a discussion of documents publishes as part of the January 30th Work Session:
Meanwhile, for much of 2018 the Congestion Relief Task Force has been meeting and in October landed on a list of 16 short- and medium-term projects as lower-cost things we can do right now.

Summary of 15 out of the 16 recommendations
Depending on the seriousness with which Council chooses to implement them, they could be very promising. But they could be watered down very easily also.

The Task Force also considered a suite of "longer-term" actions for widening the Marion and Center Street bridges and their approaches, and while there was not consensus on them, Council may take up these also.

(The City's page for the Task Force is here, and blog posts are here.)

Urban Growth Boundary Analysis (2016-2017)

On December 5th of 2016 Council voted 5-2 for the Urban Growth Boundary expansion to fit the bridge and for a set of amendments to the Transportation System Plan for the bridge.

That decision was appealed to the Land Use Board of Appeals, and early in August of 2017 LUBA remanded the decision back to the City for a do-over.

Here was an analysis of the Preferred Alternative and the proposed UGB expansion. Councilors who supported the bridge did not engage the critiques in any way. (The list has been updated with new posts.)
Additional Background (mostly pre-2014)

Much earlier in the process, the Task Force was deeply split, however, far from agreeing on the bridge alignment.

No Consensus
Additionally, eight out of 18 neighborhood associations voted on resolutions saying "no" to the "Salem Alternative," which is a variation of Alternative 4D. (Three of them repeated opposition on the UGB expansion in October 2016. No neighborhoods were in favor.)

Task Force Assessment, Pro and Con
Here's the official Rivercrossing FAQ.

Whether you think a bridge like this is necessary or a bad idea, it would be the largest infrastructure project in a generation here and therefore should receive exceptional levels of scrutiny.

(All of the significant Breakfast Blog pieces on the bridge are tagged "Rivercrossing - Third Bridge" and can seen here.)

Needless to say, many of us think it's a bad idea. Here's why:

The Case Against the Highway and Bridge

Modeling and projections for future demand are wrong

For health we should be encouraging active transportation, not passive driving
  • Obesity and diabetes are increasing (national and state reports, also nice summary here at The Atlantic)
In the face of terrible budget crises, we can't afford it
Because they are harmful, cities are taking out elevated highways, not building new ones