Toien: Building bridges, figuratively and literally
Blessed are the bridge builders! For they will heal the rent heart of America.
I've known Oregon House Rep. Courtney Neron since my wife and I engaged in her 2018 election campaign. In that time, I've come to see her as one of our bridge builders.
In a recent town hall, I was impressed by how respectfully and intently she listened to questions and concerns of citizens, regardless of their political leanings, and responded with thoughtful, constructive answers. Like all effective leaders, she is a good listener.
During her term in the Oregon House of Representatives, representing the wildly diverse District 26, which embraces parts of Washington, Clackamas and Marion counties, she has reached out to colleagues of both parties to forge bipartisan legislation — while remaining true to her twin passions of education and environment. In both arenas, the brass ring she is reaching for is building a bridge to a good, prosperous and healthy future for our children.
And now, with an eye to keeping our schoolchildren safe, she is championing the construction of a very real bridge across a very real and dangerous highway, officially dubbed the "Sherwood Pedestrian Bridge." When Sherwood's new high school is completed on Elwert Road, students will need to cross Pacific Highway (99W) to get to and from school each day.
Highway 99W is a high-volume traffic corridor shuddering under the wheels of fast moving trucks. The red signal light there is woefully inadequate to the task of protecting pedestrians, as evidenced by the fact that, between October 2018 and November 2019, almost 22,000 drivers either ran the red light or exceeded the posted speed limit at that intersection.
Courtney has worked with several cities' chambers of commerce and the Sherwood City Council to move this project forward. But public safety infrastructure, in this case a bridge, is not free. So far, she has secured $2 million in lottery funds and is now working with Oregon Legislature's Joint Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development to obtain an additional $6.5 million for the project.
I was disappointed to see comments in reaction to Ray Pitz's Pamplin Media newspaper article about the bridge, decrying this project as a waste of taxpayers' money. Taxes for boondoggles are wrong, I'll grant that. But if they go to fund a project that can save even one child — maybe your own — from being mowed down by an errant truck or a texting motorist, thereby foreclosing that youngster's promising future forever … well, I say that's taxes well spent.
Refer to the Sherwood Gazette's story on the Highway 99W bridge proposal, published online Jan. 20, 2020.
As someone once said, "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization." And, by the way, don't forget: building a large bridge like this creates good paying jobs!
Courtney is a smart, big-hearted trooper, working hard for our community and our community's children. Let's support her efforts. It's a win for everyone.
In conclusion, I'll say this again: Courtney Neron is a bridge builder, building bridges to the future for our children and generations yet unborn.
Bruce Toien is a database developer and published author. He lives in Sherwood.
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