The Bridge is Out

For fifteen years now I’ve been rising before dawn three days a week to drive to the YMCA for my morning workout. Our group congregates every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a two-hour interval workout in the pool. All roads may lead to Rome, but the most expedient route to the local YMCA passes over the Floydville bridge. Like many concrete rural bridges in the state, this one was constructed in the early 20th century. And like most of them, it is now in need of repair.

I noticed the sign posted by the bridge two weeks ago: “Bridge Out, Under Construction, 6/9/2008 to 11/30/2008.” I was not happy. This would mean taking one of two alternative routes, each adding several miles to my morning trek.

The first day the bridge was closed, my automatic pilot drove the car along the usual route. At the intersection, I was greeted by several large concrete barriers blocking the way. I shook my head, dismayed at the folly brought on by a faulty memory, and preceded along the detour several miles up the main road.

“You’re later than usual,” the receptionist at the front desk said.

“The bridge is out,” I replied, handing her my card.

“I figured as much,” she said. “That one little bridge is wreaking havoc in the lives of a lot of folks.”

Conversation in the locker room substantiated her observations. Many members were upset at the inconvenient lengthy detours. Not only did they have to go out of their way to get to the facility, but a majority of them had to backtrack miles to access alternative routes to their work in the city.

More than that, it soon became apparent that the closing of this one small bridge would result in major changes in traffic flow patterns. What had been a quick return home afterwards turned into a nightmare traffic jam from countless drivers seeking alternative routes.

As time goes on I realize other things: I will have to take my loads of leaves and brush to the landfill through the middle of town now. The increased distance will mean longer driving times and more gasoline consumption. This one little bridge construction project is going to drastically alter life as we know it for months to come.

You can still get to there from here, but it costs a bit more in time and effort.

It’s like that when we lose a significant person in our lives through a major relocation, illness or untimely death. Suddenly, the bridge is out. The way that we had taken for granted can be accessed no longer. We have to find alternative, less satisfactory routes.

Many times it takes a long time to rebuild the bridge. Some bridges never get rebuilt.

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