The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

A Bridge Passes

By John Nizalowski © 1985

Issue: January, 1985

The old Route 8 bridge over the Little River is gone now. No more grey steel girders arcing across the river. Construction crews have replaced the cross supports and riveted plates with slick concrete, curving aerodynamically over the water.

What we have gained is obvious. Speed. And perhaps safety. I'm sure the old bridge was beginning to crack and splinter under the stress of all those semis out of Stuart and Martinsville.

But what have we lost? Another piece of an older time, a daily sight of beauty out the car window. The old bridge forced us to slow down, especially with the right angle turn on the Floyd County side. This encouraged us to observe the Little River as it flowed steadily towards the New River. Whether shining in sunlight or wreathed in fog, the Little River was always a beautiful sight, the clear, rocky waters lined by pines and sycamores.

Now we rush past, snatching a fleeting glimpse as the river flashes by, barely visible over the concrete walls.

I know it's progress. I can get home from work a few minutes earlier. But I'm going to miss that old bridge and the slower, perhaps more contemplative times it symbolized. All that remains are the shore supports, and a gaping space over the river saying something is missing here. A bridge has passed.