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.