City pushes bridge

For years, Public Works has doggedly pushed for an automobile bridge over Bear Creek at Nevada Street. Not to be deterred by facts, public opinion, or the sense of the Senate — in this case the Transportation Commission — Public Works presses on.

The latest ploy is to dust off irrelevant state fire codes and try to use them to smite affordable bridge options. Never mind Oregon’s two dozen bridges that move people, bikes and emergency vehicles via innovative and affordable multi-modal bridges 12-14 feet wide. All approved and partially funded by Oregon.

Cars must be king to Public Works. (And developers’ trucks.) How can harboring such bias produce objective and rational decisions? The work of the Transportation Commission depends on the support of Public Works. Together they should be considering the full range of approaches to Ashland’s transportation needs. What would it take to get Public Works to step up and support municipal interests? Why wouldn’t Public Works give special consideration to solutions that don’t incur public debt?

The dream of an automobile bridge over Bear Creek is entrenched. Last week Public Works staff met with residents of Mountain Meadows, who gathered to hear “facts.” They heard scary scenarios of isolation when the bridge over Interstate 5 collapses. Instead, Public Works might have spent the time conferring with ODOT about seismic retrofitting. Hopes of imagined public transit and para-transit sounded as fresh as the coffee and Danish. In this last-ditch effort to garner support, Public Works collected a slew of signatures on a petition of support for their dream bridge. I’m pretty sure this was on company time.

Looking for codes to sabotage an affordable bridge must be a full-time job. The Transportation Commission requested last April an emergency/bike/ped bridge option, but the request was honored in the breach. While remaining neutral, the commission has heard the public outcry and responded appropriately. Still, Public Works hasn’t heard. We do not want your automobile bridge on Nevada. Can you hear us now?

Marty Breon