Bridge Repairs

Find a way to shore up funding

We tend to take bridges for granted. Whatever gets us over the river or across the railroad tracks below is just part of our quick trip from one place to another.

Perhaps it is because something is so important that we tend to overlook it. But something major is in the works on a critical transportation link in the mid-Columbia: the federally-funded redecking project on the Hood River tollbridge. The Port of Hood River has been doing an admirable job of preparing the community for the $1.35 million project, due to start in early 2004. The Port announced it in early 2003, and included another preview of the work in the Summer 2003 Port newsletter.

Bridge redecking will include road and support beam replacement, new guardrails and utility line relocation. The new deck will be safer to drive on, less noisy, and last for another 20 years, according to the Port. The project will be funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation.

What is less clear is the fate of hundreds of other deteriorating highway bridges around the state, including some in Hood River County. The Legislature, including Sen. Rick Metsger, has devoted extensive attention this session to what is a public safety and economic development concern. House Bill 2041, which would create a $2.5 million funding package, calls for increased vehicle registration and title fees, mixed with the sale of state bonds, as a way to shore up some 500 cracked and load-limited bridges around the state. But a crack has appeared in the bridge repair legislation. House Bill 2041 was returned to committee this week over some legislators’ concerns over a clause that would allow income taxes generated by the proposal to be “captured” for specific uses, including up to $3 million each year for a tax credit for truckers who buy cleaner engines.

Legislators need to be sensitive to industry concerns as they continue negotiations, but truckers need to remember that fixing bridges is in everyone’s interest including their own.

It would be a shame to nickel-and-dime away a proposal that would meet one of the state’s most critical needs.

Some give and take is in order to finally roll out what could become one of the 2003 session’s few distinct success stories.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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