Regarding what to do with the current Van Buren Street Bridge:

• Repurpose the structure as a bicycle and pedestrian crossing.

• Move the bridge to another location.

• Dismantle or demolish the bridge.

There will be a presidential election, with very high voter participation, in Benton County and the United States in November 2020. These options (and others, if necessary) should be included in the ballot in the form of a nonbinding advisory resolution so the City Council can get a more accurate picture of what the public really thinks.

Opinions (in the form of votes) from 75-80 percent of the populace would be a far more accurate barometer of what the taxpayers really want than testimony at public hearings, which quite often are dominated by special-interest groups that do not represent the public at large. If one option is the overwhelming favorite, it would be much easier for the City Council to honor the will of the people.

If it were up to me (since the new bridge will provide pedestrian and bike access, the main case made for preserving the existing bridge), I'd demolish it ASAP and not spend another dime of tax money maintaining an obsolete pile of junk that would be a white elephant bridge to nowhere. Others, of course, may feel differently.

Hence the need for a nonbinding advisory resolution on the November 2020 ballot. Let the people decide the bridge's fate this time, not a special-interest group.

Brooks Hatch

Corvallis (June 29)

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