A Road Less Traveled

So a week or two ago, I was complaining about a lane closure, and Friday at 6PM the governor closed the Sherman Minton bridge completely, due to a “serious structural defect.”

Nobody was quite certain what it was going to mean, other than a vague foreboding sense that this might actually be the Worst Monday Ever in this neck of the woods.

I felt particularly bad for the lady who called in to a local radio station having managed to convince herself all weekend that news of the bridge closure was just a horrible joke. I guess it’s true what they say. Denial is more than a river in Egypt.

I think I’m still processing, myself.

First, I am grateful. Because as bad as this might be, it’s not as bad as what the poor folks in Minnesota had to cope with when their bridge fell, rather than being closed.

I have had a morbid, irrational fear of bridges since I was five years old and freaked out watching my dad cross a swinging rope bridge at Rock City in Chattanooga, Tennessee. When I was little, I was so terrified I had to get into the floorboards when we’d cross the Sherman Minton on the way to my grandma Gigee’s house. (This was obviously back in the day before mandatory car seats).

Eventually, when I grew up and got a job in Louisville, I learned to manage my fear.  There is still a lot of deep breathing when I drive across, and my closest family knows if they get a panicked call from me around rush hour, it’s one of those rare occasions where traffic has me stopped on the bridge and I need someone to talk me through it.

I am worried and uncertain. Worried about people who have somehow managed to hang on to their jobs in this economy, only to end up losing them because our government failed to properly maintain our infrastructure. Because it won’t be people like me, who make a living spinning words and websites who lose everything to this. Then again, we’re all connected and my family is hardly invulnerable.

I worry about downtown New Albany, which is just starting to develop and grow in ways that people in this area have dreamed of for decades. I worry about Harrison county, where I live, which has a high population of people who commute to Louisville, especially since most of our own factory jobs have migrated elsewhere in recent years, including the closure of  Tower Automotive.

I’m worried about flaring tempers, road rage and frustration pushing people to do things they’ll regret.

I don’t know what’s going to happen.

But I’m also hopeful.

I hope that people in this region get creative. I hope employers do the right thing.

I hope that because we can’t keep doing the same things, the same way, we’ll decide to do better things, a better way.

But only time will tell.

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