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People In The Way -Photographing the human cost of a third bridge

People In The Way  -Photographing the human cost of a third bridge

About the cover
Lisa Lent and her daughter Nicole tend the counter at OK Tires in northeast Salem.  The shop has been in the family for 50 years, and is one of the businesses that would be impacted, destroyed or relocated by construction of the multiple-mile raised roadway and “Third Bridge” being considered by Salem City government.  
“My dad’s store hasn’t hardly changed in all fifty years,” Lent told us.  “But this bridge would mess us up, for sure.”
Helen Caswell, of Salem Weekly staff, enjoyed the assignment of meeting and photographing people like Lent who would be affected by the construction.  Here is her photo essay of residents who live and work in the Highland neighborhood.

 

The “Third Bridge” currently being considered by local officials will impact people with displacement or property loss from eminent domain.

Taxpayer costs for the bridge project so far, after over six years of work and study is hard to calculate, but includes:
• more than 1,100 hours for the City of Salem
• more than 2,700 hours for Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT)
• more than $3 million spent by ODOT for an environmental impact statement

…. all to save a few minutes commute and build 2.7 miles of the longest continuous elevated roadway in Oregon.

Taxpayer cost is one matter.  Human cost is another.

Alternative 4D is the name of the plan that has been recommended by officials.  Official figures state that Alternative 4D will affect 160 Salem homes and businesses.

ODOT’s 2012 report states “Alternative 4D [the elevated highway and bridge selected as the ‘preferred alternative’] would require the relocation of an estimated 51 businesses employing 490- 510 employees with annual sales from $71.3 to $79.3 million.”  Hundreds of tax lots would have Right of Way impacts.

But who are these people that comprise the “human cost?”  Salem Weekly visited a few and asked their thoughts about the $687 million project, its 5-year construction and the impact on their lives.

Melvin Wells, with granddaughter Crista, works at a neighborhood restaurant. Wells says the wider, congested streets created by 4D “will affect my business.

Brad Croucher has worked at OK Tires for more than 30 years. He is concerned about the impacts of 4D.

Kristine Winner has had connections with the Highland neighborhood all her life. She now lives there and does evangelical ministry. She says Highland “isn’t just a neighborhood, but a family.”

Long time Highland resident Loren Wells feels her objections to a third bridge have been “ignored.”

Cathy Wells, with children Crista and Donald, says the impact of bridge construction on her family would be “mind-boggling.”

Albino Gonzalez will have his job at OK Tires impacted by bridge construction.

JJ and Jessica Perez will lose a significant part of their front yard if their street is twice as wide,

 

5 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for covering this issue which seems, so far, to have been under-reported in relation to its immense importance. I do wonder why we – yes we will pay – want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to save a few minutes when “Vehicle MIles Traveled” have been going down for years in both Salem and across the state. This would be a freeway/bridge for folks driving from I-5 to the casinos and the coast, not for Salem residents.

  2. Third Bridge……

    I don’t think the legislatives know what kind of negitive impact this bridge will bring. We already have enough crime on the streets, the bridge will only add more; to top it off this bridge will also take away histroy from all of the families in this neighborhood. The third bridge is not nessacery it’s more money the tax payers will have to pay for, it’s just not a good idea

  3. Your comments about OK Tires interests me as my grandmother’s farmhouse was taken to build OK Tires. The house sheltered three persons with significant disabilities. Once out, grandpa and I could no longer walk daily to the Willamette River to fish for the day’s super.

  4. 2 – The above is just the beginning. The Front street property sheltered three males, one with severe paranoid schizophrenia, one with severe cebral palsy, both affected in almost all areas of activities of daily living. The third was hit by a truck on Pine St., NE and suffered multiple malunions and ultimately received full vocational rehabilitation. About 1963, my great grandmonther’s home was taken for the parking arcade for Salem Public Library. Another three disabled persons were displaced, an advanced diabetic, a Chron’s disease, and a veteran with severe PTS. Now, the 3rd bridge is after my childhood home, I am disabled, some 50% or more. I WONDER, DOES PROGRESS IN SALEM, OREGON MEAN TAKING FROM THE POOR AND DISABLED?

  5. I am drafting a formal complaint to the US Civil Rights DOJ describing how the City of Salem has suppressed our participation in OUR democracy. How about slowing things down? I believe with many experts that the function of government is to slow things down so we can adapt to rapid change and ‘EMPIRE BUILDING,’ as the Oregon state anthem boasts. Your thoughts, have you or your neighbors been silenced somehow by the City of Salem? Racism? Highland and West Salem is where most minorities, disabled and seniors live. Why not reck South Salem? – Please copy and share?

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