SALEM--It’s been the talk for decades, but now, it could really happen.

ODOT and an oversight team are looking at building a third bridge going through Salem.

A few dozen residents, many representing various neighborhood groups, got a chance to give their opinion in a special session Monday night at the Salem City Council.

The debate is over a possible bridge linking Highway 22 in West Salem with the Salem Parkway to the North. The oversight team includes representatives from the four major counties plus ODOT.

They've recommended building the bridge but have also offered up various alternatives including improving the capacity of existing bridges and a no-bridge option.

Most of the residents at the meeting say the current traffic just isn’t a problem and they worry the disruption to neighborhoods would be too great.

"It's not needed, it's not necessary. The city has already spent so much. It doesn't make sense," said Salem neighbor Betty James.

"What kind of a public transportation system could we build if we took $600 million instead?" asked resident Keith Cohan.

The cost has a pretty broad-ranging price tag between $148 million to $708 million. The bulk of the funding would be paid for mostly by local taxpayers and other sources could include a local fuel tax, vehicle registration taxes, property taxes and tolls.

The commission is ready to move quickly. Their final recommendations will come in the first part of next year. If this goes further, things like property taxes require voter approval.

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