Third Bridge - Rivercrossing

The Salem River Crossing is a proposal 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Here is the general scale and footprint (though in some details this has been superseded).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.

Currently the "Preferred Alternative," the so-called "Salem Alternative," is in process between draft Environmental Impact Statement and final Environmental Impact Statement.

Current Action - Late July 2017

On December 5th 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.

On December 30th, at least two appeals were initiated with the Land Use Board of Appeals. A group of eight Salem residents have filed a notice of intent to appeal, and the state Department of Land Conservation and Development also filed a notice.

Subsequently, DLCD dropped their appeal and negotiated an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Salem that proposed some limits on the SRC. (More on the agreement here and here.)

In what might be a "seismic" shift on the Salem River Crossing, on April 24th City Council voted against the agreement with DLCD to allow the SRC to move forward.

On the one hand, the rejection of the agreement means that absent any action at LUBA, the SRC can move towards the Record of Decision full speed ahead.

On the other hand, the decisive 5-4 vote shows publicly that Council is determined and has the votes for change. This may cause Staff and others to recalculate what is possible in the future and influence the shape of future initiatives or other negotiation. Additionally, it may signal to the Legislature, to ODOT, and to the MPO, that it is a seismic retrofit, and not a new bridge, that is the great local priority.

In any case, there is a newish schedule from the spring. It does not reference or incorporate the appeal at LUBA, and so it still seems optimistic and unlikely. The hearing with oral argument was held July 13th, and a decision is expected by August 3rd. All in all, it's very difficult to see a December 2017 end and formal Record of Decision.

New, this winter/spring!

Urban Growth Boundary Analysis

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

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
* This will be updated from time to time as here and elsewhere more of this is discussed an analyzed.