One of the things that goes along with living out in the country is not-so-modern roadways. Although those of us who forego city life learn to accept the archaic characteristics of country roads, we aren't above grumbling about them at times! We know to expect lots of gravel and a car with a perpetual white powder coating. Some, ourselves included, are fortunate to have "improved" county roads in their area. This means instead of gravel, we have chip-and-seal. At first glance, the surface appears to be asphalt. But we all know looks can be deceiving. Chip and seal means 289 out of 365 days of each year, you drive down each (typically winding) road as if it were an obstacle course, the obstacles being the ever-popular-in-fast-food-not-so-much-on-roadways super-size potholes. If you're facing a road full of "repaired" potholes (that translates to potholes overflowing with tarry filler) you should plan to allot time for standing, rag and a can of Goof Off in hand, scrubbing away at your car for hours. But in spite of all the unfavorable characteristics if you look hard enough, you can also find some interesting aspects to the not-so-modern roadway system.
This bridge crosses over the river that runs through our property and, obviously as seen in this photo, through the road. When we first discovered the bridge, an irrational fear of heights left me less than thrilled at the idea of ever driving across it. Add to that my husband's affinity for button pushing, finding our truck parked smack-dab in the middle of the bridge with him saying, "Look WAAAAY down there at the river!" made me vow to never cross the bridge as the driver of an automobile.
However, when the shortest drive time to any of your destinations is 20 minutes, fears and stubbornness give way to convenience. Taking the "back way" to some locations in town shaves off as much as 10 minutes. For one who's always pushing the mercury level up on the patience gauge of the punctual, I need every extra minute I can get. So I learned to drive over it, eventually without giving a second thought to the safety of a suspension bridge erected in 1914.
Last weekend, an accident on the bridge left it impassable. There are variations to the story of how this happened but so far, the most reliable source I have relays the story this way.
A car carrying 2 teenage boys was racing from town along this road with a truck carrying 2 teenage girls chasing them in a game of cat and mouse. The boys managed to get far enough ahead that they were able to pull off the side road, undetected, just before crossing the bridge. As the truck with the girls approached driving at an estimated 85 mph (questionable to me), they hit the hump right before the bridge, became airborne, and flipped, landing upside down, crossways on the railings of the bridge.
In this photo, you can see where they landed and you can see that the trusses and cables suspending that portion of the bridge were damaged, collapsing the floor.
The girls were both wearing seat belts and by the grace of God, did not end up tumbling over the railing to the shallow riverbed 20 feet below. They sustained only minor injuries. But the Francka Bridge which has served our little community faithfully for 105 years suffered irreparable damage. Rumor has it there are no plans to replace it. And that's going to leave a lot of us living out here in the country grumbling a little bit more.