ODOT recently released the “FY 2017 Oregon Transportation Needs and Issues Report.”* The report provides results from a random sample survey of Oregonians that ODOT conducts every two years to assess public perceptions about the transportation system and to learn of concerns. The survey was administered to over 5,000 households by the OSU Survey Research Center to achieve a sample size of 1,000 Oregonians.
An important question in the survey concerned the best use of scarce transportation dollars: “Do you think it is more important for ODOT to expand the highway system to reduce traffic congestion, or to preserve and maintain the highways Oregon already has.” Interestingly, ODOT reported, respondents in Salem said by a two-thirds margin that maintenance was more important than expansion.
As ODOT reports, “Salem residents were least in favor of expansion (25%).”
This result is at odds with the claims of 3rd Bridge proponents like Salem Bridge Solutions who like to say, that a large majority of Salem residents are in favor of a half-billion dollar bridge project in North and West Salem. The scientific evidence seems to prove otherwise. Salem residents want to fix what we have first. The transportation funding package approved by the Legislature last year does just that. It includes funding for a seismic retrofit and hopefully other repairs and improvements to the Center Street Bridge.