OPINION COLUMNS

A bridge too far…

By Kristen Tribe | Published Saturday, August 24, 2013

I may be the only person in Wise County who doesn’t want her road fixed.

It’s closed while a one-lane bridge is being replaced, and what I thought would be a nuisance has instead become a blessing.

Kristen Tribe

Kristen Tribe

The road closure has forced us to drive “the long way” to get just about anywhere – work, church, the grocery store, and next week, school. But the upside is that it’s also forced hundreds of other cars to do the same, virtually eliminating traffic on our country road.

If I had my way, the road would never be re-opened.

Not only has it reduced noise, it has also created a recreation area right outside our front door. The closed road is like a personal hike and bike trail. When the roadway is open to traffic, it’s too dangerous for my kids to ride their bikes up and down it, and even I have qualms about walking or jogging along certain sections.

But no traffic means free rein.

Just a few days after it closed on July 30, we wandered down to the bridge site just to check it out. The Little Tribes took to the road with a bike and scooter, and my husband and I made the trek on foot. Not a car in sight.

He asked what I would choose if I had to decide at that very moment whether the road would be re-opened or closed forever.

“Easy,” I said. “Keep it closed,” to which he wholeheartedly agreed.

I would drive “the long way” the rest of my days.

The only time it’s been a problem is when I forgot that the long way would be required and left the house with only five minutes to spare.

I heard that it also caused a little trouble for the Fit-N-Wise folks who had to re-route one of their triathlons. My son suggested the competitors could just pole vault over the creekbed with the missing bridge, but I think that idea was tossed out.

I’m sure it has also been inconvenient for those cars who use our road as a shortcut between two farm-to-market roads. But I have to admit; I don’t feel sorry for many of those speedsters.

I have actually suggested to my county commissioner that he just leave the road closed, but it elicited only a hearty laugh. A second option would be to file a petition like the folks in Precinct 4 did last summer in an effort to keep County Road 3214 and the “bridge to nowhere” closed. But they didn’t fare well in that quest, and I foresee failure on my part, too.

Unfortunately, our bridge does go somewhere, and the road will be reopened when the work is complete.

Originally, commissioners said it would take about eight to 10 weeks, so I figure we have about one month left to bike, walk and jog freely. We might as well make the most of it.

And when it reopens with a nice, new, two-lane bridge – and the traffic returns – I’ll do my best to choose gratitude over attitude.

Although our days of neighborhood biking may be behind us, at least that stretch will be safer for all cars, including mine.

Kristen Tribe is news editor of the Wise County Messenger.

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