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Mailbag: Joni Mitchell said it

Mailbag: Joni Mitchell said it


Picture a June day in Corvallis. Blue sky, soft breeze, osprey crying, smells of the Willamette flowing below you …

Then a semi, three Harley hogs and a monster pickup with blatting muffler blow by on your left. Destroys the ambiance of the riverside experience.

That’s a bike ride on the Harrison Bridge, and what a ride on the Oregon Department of Transportation’s proposed new bridge heading east out of town would be like. Also, compare the new bridge’s 5% approach grade to the Van Buren Bridge’s 3% grade, which tapers to a 1% grade. No contest.

Now picture the historic Van Buren Bridge dedicated to pedestrians and bike riders, relocated 175 feet or so upstream of where it is now. Traffic planners know that physically distancing bicyclists and pedestrians from motor vehicles is the safest design. A curb or berm isn’t what I’m talking about. Anything can be jumped by a drunk or drowsy driver, or someone having a medical emergency. This happens too often.

We went through this process with ODOT in 1993, and excruciatingly so in 2004-06, and the conclusion of both those in-depth studies, supported by the public, was to save the historic bridge as a dedicated bike/ped facility. Well, give us what we’ve already told you — twice —we want: our historic bridge preserved as a bike/ped facility for citizens (not motorists) to enjoy. Joni Mitchell said it: You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

Lyn Larson



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