Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bridge Controversy Nothing New - 1911 Debate over Union St. RR Bridge

Today's eristics in the Statesman over a footbridge between Riverfront Park and Minto-Brown are nothing new.

Just as forces opposed the rehabilitation of the Union Street Railroad Bridge, forces, including Mayor Lachmund, opposed the construction of the bridge in the first place.*

Supporters of the bridge took out a large ad on Thursday, February 23rd, 1911, early in the discussion and planning for the bridge. The ad copy touches on some of the very same issues, with the Coast Guard today succeeding the War Department!
To the ordinary man the building of a bridge across the Willamette, providing one had the money, ought to be a very simple matter, but the Salem, Falls City & Western railroad is finding it to be an exceedingly complicated proposition.

Yesterday John H. and Charles L. McNary, attorneys for the road, forwarded to the secretary of war a request for permission to build a draw bridge across the river at the foot of Union street in this city. This request is accompanied by the plans and specifications for the struture, which will cost $100,000.

Last Monday the council passed a franchise giving the railroad the right to construct this bridge, and last week the state of Oregon gave its consent for the same thing by the passage of a bill through both houses of the legislature. So far about the only department of the government that has not had a finger in the pie are the counties of Polk and Marion.

The war department exercised authority in the matter because the Willamette is a navigable stream. However, it is believed that as soon as the department sees the plans, which provide for a draw sufficient to permit all vessels that ply the river to pass, the permit will be granted as a mere formality. Were the bridge to be a high one, there would undoubtedly be some delay, for then the government would probably send its engineers here to investigate.

The railroad company is pushing the preliminary work as rapidly as possible, it is hoped to begin construction on the bridge in the course of 60 days, and to complete it some time this summer.
Kingwood Park was an early gridded subdivision in the flats in West Salem.

In the same paper a news piece appeared.



Significant Remarks by Mayor Made at the Time the Franchise Was Passed Are Recalled When He Said That He Had Nothing to Say at That Time But Intimated That He Would Latter

That Mayor Lachmund may veto the thirty-five year franchise granted to the Salem, Falls City and Western railroad at the last meeting of the city council is the latest development in the fight that has been waged by the road for permission to lay its tracks on Union street and to span the Willamette with a hundred thousand dollar bridge.

While the mayor has not declared publically that he will use his ax on the franchise, it is well known that he has been opposed to the franchise.

Mr. Lachmund is out of town at the present time and it was therefore impossible to secure a statement from him on the matter. However the Statesman has it from an authoritative source that the mayor has said he would send in a message to the council stating his objections to the franchise.

At the last meeting of the council the franchise passed by a vote of nine to four after considerable discussion. During the consideration fo the bill in the committee of the whole council, Councilman Durbin was in the chair and he asked the mayor if he wished to say anything upon the subject. HIs honor replied that he did not at this time but that he would later.

This remark is significant now in view of the knowledge that the city executive is to use his power of veto.

The main opposition to the granting of the franchise was because the road was to use steam, it being contended that a steam road would make the street unpleasant as a residence district. John H. McNary, representing the road, stated that it was impossible for the road to use electricity.

The grant runs for thirty-five years and gives the road the right to use the streets and to construct a bridge across the Willamette at the foot of Union street.

It is believed that by the people interested in having this road pass through the city on the way to the Abiqua timber and to Silverton, that the council will override the mayor's veto. This will require ten votes if all the members are present.

*We may have more to say on this as hopsman and mayor Louis Lachmund seems to have been especially contentious and cranky in an interesting, though also disagreeable, way. (And more on Lachmund here.)

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