Friday, June 30, 2006

Bridges As Barriers

Several years ago, the put-down comics had their laugh at the expense of the dry country cowboy. The joke was that the cowboy says to his girl friend, "Hit's been a'rainin' . Why don't we git in the pickup and go down to the river and watch hit run."

Well, I have news for those smart-ass back-east slickers. I've lived in the big city where it rains every other day and I've lived where Spanish moss drips off of the live oaks. But once I returned to Arizona, my water tropism kicked in. These days, there's nothing more wonderful than to go down to the river or the creek or the wash and watch the water run!

That's why I am conducting a one-woman campaign against those absolutely awful cast concrete barriers that line the edges of modern bridges. You can't see a dang thing when you cross the Verde on I-17 Northbound or Kirkland Creek heading to Bagdad or on any modern highway crossing a watercourse.

Look at those cement monstrosities below. They're on the new super duper Willow Creek crossing on Williamson Valley Road. Whether the creek's dry -- or whether it's in flood stage -- you wouldn't find out by glancing out the window. Talk about being disconnected from your environment!

At one time, bridge designers took care to allow passers-by to see that which was being bridged. Take a look at the Verde crossing on I-17 going South as a reminder of a more bountiful day. You can actually see the river on its way to fill the faucets of greater Phoenix.

Even better, consider this bridge over the Verde at Perkinsville. A wonderful old structure that lets the driver know he's up in the air over a Real River. There was a similar bridge over pretty little Kirkland Creek at Yava until a few years ago, when the highway improvers installed the typical concrete barriers that now obscure the creek.

I thank artist Linne Thomas for making a living record of the Perkinsville bridge -- and for letting me use the painting here to illustrate my point. Linne has captured many pieces of the Arizona that is disappearing as the land is subdivided and structures from earlier days are either prettified or bulldozed. You can see more of her work here or in the Arts Prescott co-op gallery on Whiskey Row.


Karen of Scottsdale said...

I like to see the water when I go over a bridge too!

k said...

Yes. I've been extremely annoyed at this new Hide It thing. One person told me it was a deliberate ploy to keep drivers from being unsafely *distracted* by looking at the water instead of at the road ahead.

This person is loosey-goosey with facts so I've no idea if there is any grain of truth to it.

Would you happen to know anything about that?

Granny J said...

That's always been one of my theories; the other is that the pre-cast pieces are cheaper by far than erecting a nice railing.

Reason it gets my goat is that I am a passenger & I like to connect with my surroundings whenever possible.

Katie Baird said...

Searching for lovely old bridges is a pasttime of mine and I echo your thoughts. Coincidentally, Linne Thomas is my favorite Prescott area artist, and I sure wish I were the proud owner ofhe piece you used here to illustrate your post.

We'll just have to keep photographing and painting these old beauties to preserve their memories.

Granny J said...

Thank you for showing up, Katie. I don't know, but I suspect that the splendid old bridge across the Hassayampa down on the Waggoner Road is still there. BTW, that's a small print that Linne gave me for the post -- I'd love to have the original. I have always loved her rendition of sights seen out the Perkinsville Road...

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