by Greg Wasson

How convenient that the Oregon Constitution gives us a way to lead the city council away from the fiscal precipice that is the “Third Bridge.”

On December 5, 2016, the city council approved Ordinance # 14-16, keeping the half-billion dollar “Third Bridge” monstrosity alive. 

The signatures of 2,500 Salem electors are enough to demand a vote on this decision. A website – – provides down-loadable signature sheets, instructions on how to collect and certify signatures, and, an address.

If 500 people send 5 certified signatures, we make the ballot.  If 1,000 circulators return an average of 2.5 certified autographs, the same result. 

In other words, this is eminently doable and needs to be done.  The powers-that-be are committed to solving Salem’s 21st Century problems with 20th Century tools. 

“Build-build-build” may have been a legitimate mantra for conquering nature.  But, we need a new slogan if we are to enjoy the conquest.

Before we continue wasting money chasing the “opportunity” of the third bridge, let’s stop and think about sustainable solutions.  Would staggering the work hours of public employees make a difference? Can we expand the existing bridges?  What can we do to encourage other transportation solutions?

It’s not like the Willamette River is going anywhere.  If the alternatives don’t work, we can always build the bridge.

But, until we at least try the less-invasive strategies do we really want to sink over half-a-billion dollars into dividing West Salem and scarring the Willamette with gargantuan walls of concrete?

As Salem City Councilor Tom Andersen puts it: “Trying to build your way out of congestion is like trying to treat obesity by buying bigger pants.” In the video embedded in the website – – Andersen raises a number of questions about the wisdom of following this Pied Piper over the Willamette. But, as things stand now, the various local governments are free to keep wasting money chasing a bridge that probably will never be built. We only have until February 28, 2017, to gather sufficient signatures to force a chance to vote on this nonsense.  If you oppose wasting any further money on the bridge, act today!

Download, certify, and, return the signature sheet found on the website.

Even if yours is the only signature on the sheet (you will still need to complete the circulator’s certificate) that’s one less signature we need.

Greg Wasson, a former member of the Oregon Bar, wrote the ballot measure that saved Salem’s Riverfront Park from development in the late 1980s.