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County plans bridge fixes

by: JIM CLARK, One option for a new Sellwood Bridge that would save occupied condos from being demolished would doom this new mixed-use building on Southeast Grant Avenue and Tacoma Street.

Thank you for calling attention to the need for increased investment in transportation infrastructure, including Multnomah County's Willamette River bridges, in the Aug. 7 editorial 'Don't wait for a crisis to invest.'

You note the $325 million needed to fix the county's bridges. Although our need is great, you see a lack of 'financial or leadership plans' to deal with it. While it's clear much remains be done, here are a few things the county has recently accomplished:

• Addressed our most serious bridge need (at the time) by securing funds to replace the Sauvie Island Bridge. The new bridge will open in 2008.

• Addressed our current top priority by securing funds to plan for the replacement or rehabilitation of the Sellwood Bridge.

We are on schedule to identify the solution to that problem in 2008 and have secured $25 million for the project. We are optimistic we can obtain the remaining funds after we work with the community to finalize what we're building.

• This year we began working with our jurisdictional partners, including the Oregon Department of Transportation and the city of Portland, to find ways to fund additional maintenance and capital upgrades to our bridges.

• We are exploring creating a new entity - a regional bridge authority - to manage all the Willamette River bridges and help ensure reliable long-term funding.

Solving this problem will require more than leadership from elected officials. The public must be engaged as well, since any funding solution will require its support.

Ted Wheeler

Multnomah County chairman

New bridge need not displace homeowners

I am writing in response to your article 'Span plan that saves condos touted' (Aug. 3).

We do not welcome the idea of losing our homes, especially when there are options for a newly constructed or rehabilitated bridge without causing serious harm to Sellwood homeowners.

Our objectives are simple:

1. Don't destroy people's homes when there are viable options to sustain both homes and the bridge.

2. Don't force economic hardship on the Sellwood/Westmoreland community.

3. Don't build a bridge on unstable ground when there is a better option.

We support two alternatives. First, the 'teal' alignment, which allows for more features that can satisfy most stakeholder wish lists. It also can be built on what appears to be stable bedrock ground on the west side of the river.

Second, the 'yellow' alignment, where the existing bridge is, can be conditionally supported. This is a basic approach to the problem and should be the least costly solution.

Neither solution destroys Sellwood homes.

I can't stress enough: Existing homes do not need to be destroyed, because there are other viable options to the Sellwood bridge alignments.

Edgar Murphy

Southeast Portland

Time's running out for Sellwood span

As a user of the Sellwood Bridge I find it incredible that we may be years away from completion of the restoration and/or rebuilding project.

Would it take that long to build a replacement span if the current bridge became unusable today?

In reviewing the plans on the project site "www.sellwoodbridge.org" I note that information gathering started in June 2006 and will not conclude until May 2008.

While public input is clearly important, two years seems far too lengthy a process.

A sense of urgency on this project is clearly lacking, not only for metropolitan transportation needs, but for current public safety.

It seems to me the bridge is in terrible shape, largely due to inattention by the Multnomah County commission. How could the county not have a replacement plan for a bridge as old as the Sellwood span?

Patrick J. Smith

Gladstone

Keep Oregon green: Protect medical pot

Don DuPay is absolutely right (Feds strike medical pot growers, Aug. 3). Something has got to be done, and if there's not anyone else who is in statehood to defend us, I will vote for him.

I have three young children, and my family needs me. I can't be curled up in bed in constant pain constantly or taking nine different medications every day, completely vegged out. And I certainly can't be in jail, either.

Spending your life on pills is no way to live. The medical marijuana program allows me a quality of life I've never had before.

Let's keep Oregon green!

L. Pepler

Roseburg

Marijuana program has become travesty

About 'Feds strike medical pot growers' (Aug. 3), I have to side with law enforcement on this one. People are abusing the system.

I voted to allow the medical use of marijuana, since I sympathize with the people who use it to ease their pain, especially cancer patients on chemotherapy. However, I now know there are many people with cards who I feel don't deserve them.

They're not in pain, and they're not really ill. They just want a medical marijuana card so they can legally smoke pot.

For this I blame the doctors who issue the cards for any little reason, or even help patients make up a reason to get the card.

It's time to put medical marijuana on the Oregon ballot again - to make it illegal again.

John Bucsek

Tigard

Duplicate tests due to poor planning, greed

Let me get this straight: Dick Gibson, chief information officer of Legacy Health System, bemoans the fact that area hospitals would have to give up $10 million a year from duplicate testing that would no longer be necessary under a record-sharing system (Record sharing stalls, Aug. 10)?

As someone who works in the health care field, I can say that duplicate testing is almost always a result of poor pre-appointment or pre-procedure planning.

After Gibson's comments, I wonder if this also is a convenient way to generate revenue thus providing no incentive to fix it. Gibson also claims that a system of record sharing could cost the community.

All these duplicate, unnecessary tests billed to Medicaid and insurance companies (passed on to taxpayers and consumers) is more costly.I find it shocking that Legacy's chief information officer basically would admit the system relies on duplicate tests to offset unreimbursed care.

David Huston

Southwest Portland

Patients can be part of records solution

I just read the Aug. 10 piece 'Record sharing stalls,' about possibly sharing all medical information electronically with medical facilities in Portland.

The plan is said to save patients money and to prevent errors. But we know that electronic records are no more error-free than paper, and more difficult to correct.

I wonder, has anyone asked the patients whether they'd like their medical information available citywide? I would object strongly.

Americans cherish the freedom to choose their physician. I do not want my medical information shared with anyone at all who happens to be a doctor or other health professional.

To think computerized medical records could be obtained only after patient consent is ridiculous and naive. Most information needs could be solved if the patient had his own set of records or took responsibility for records arriving where needed.

What about psychiatric records, family counseling orconfidences shared with the physician?

All the unintended consequences need to be thoroughly explored first before the system is changed, and patients need to be part of any decision to make medical records widely available.

Emma Lee Weibel

Lake Oswego