Local Doctor aids Boston wounded; Lawmakers ponder sales tax; Emergency drill on 101 bridge to delay traffic; Lane’s longest span opens

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Local News

16 April 2013

Local Doctor Aids Boston Wounded

Two Florence residents were walking back to their downtown Boston hotel yesterday when they heard the first blast.

Rachel Pearson said it was as if “time slowed down”.  She now knows the second blast came about 15 seconds later, but it seemed much longer than that.

Her husband, Dr. Paul Pearson, a Florence family practice physician, had just completed the Boston Marathon and had time to put his sweats on and get some fluids, but that was about it following his 26.2 mile run.

Within seconds they began helping people, aiding a woman with a laceration to her neck; then helping staunch the blood flowing from what appeared to be shrapnel wound to a young man’s leg.

Both patients would be fine and the couple’s main concern was to try to help them get to a hospital.

Rachel Pearson said it was “pretty dramatic” and at first they didn’t know what was going on… but it quickly became obvious that something terrible had happened.

It was also obvious that race organizers and officials in Boston were well prepared to meet the needs.

Still, she said… it turned out to be a “day like no other”.

Legislators Ponder Sales Tax

Oregon lawmakers are looking at a sales tax as part of a proposal to overhaul Oregon’s volatile taxation system.

The Senate Finance and Revenue Committee discussed a resolution yesterday that would ask voters to approve a five-percent tax on goods and services.  A sales tax would be accompanied by a cut in income taxes or other revenue.

Oregon voters have rejected nine previous requests to authorize a sales tax.

Proponents say they’re only starting a discussion and don’t expect the measure to pass this year.

State government is largely funded by personal income tax revenue… which rises and falls sharply with the economy.  Supporters say a sales tax would make the system more stable.

Critics, though, say Oregonians already pay too much in taxes… still others say a sales tax would harm low-income residents.

Emergency Drill to Slow Traffic

If you’re planning on crossing the Siuslaw River in the wee early morning hours of Friday plan on leaving yourself plenty of extra time.

An Oregon Department of Transportation crew will be conducting an emergency training exercise on the bridge between two and five AM that morning.

ODOT spokesman Rick Little said recent upgrades have been made to the bridge’s electronic span lift operating system.  But, in the event of a power failure, crews must be ready to manually control the operation of the bridge.  This exercise, he says, will be an “important and necessary experience” for crews in preparing for an actual emergency.

Little says traffic will be held for an hour at a time for three hours beginning at two AM.  ODOT is working with emergency services personnel who are making alternate plans for coverage during the closure periods.

Lane’s Longest Span

Lane County’s longest bridge is nearing completion… and it doesn’t even cross any water.

After nearly three years of one-lane travel on a portion of Sweet Creek road east of Mapleton, the nearly quarter-mile long bridge that replaced a failing retaining wall along the bank of the Siuslaw River opens to two-way traffic this week.

Work on the bridge itself began in August of 2012 and wasn’t expected to be completed until December of this year but West Coast Contractors of Coos Bay stepped up the schedule to finish eight months early.

Crews put the finishing touches on paving the surface of a 1,130 foot bridge, the longest in the Lane County road system, that spans dry ground next to the Siuslaw River on Sweet Creek Road. (photo by Lane Count Public Works.)
Crews put the finishing touches on paving the surface of a 1,130 foot bridge, the longest in the Lane County road system, that spans dry ground next to the Siuslaw River on Sweet Creek Road. (photo by Lane Count Public Works.)

Traffic has been restricted to one lane for the past three years after a retaining wall began crumbling.  Officials initially wanted to replace the wall, but soon discovered that wasn’t feasible.

The next step was to design a bridge supported by pilings on the river bank.  What initially started out as a 243-foot long bridge wound up nearly five times that length because of instability.

Lane County says Sweet Creek road serves 68 homes and is a critical access to hundreds of thousands of acres of forest land.

That last aspect was a crucial factor in paying for the work.  Because of that forest access, the Federal Highway Administration paid nearly $5.9-million of the total $6.3-million price tag.