Sunday, April 20, 2008

We all know that time is money and the object of life is to squeeze as much as you can from your limited time on earth. Right? We want the fastest chips, and the fastest highways, so there will be no impediment to the self-important objectives we hurl ourselves toward with head-first abandon.

As you can see in the photos, we have had some rain in Northwest Arkansas. Rain and more rain. And weather has a way of reminding us that not all will conform to our expectations.

A few years ago the Arkansas State Highway Department came up with a plan to abandon our much loved one lane suspension bridge at Beaver and replace it with one more modern, much faster and capable of carrying the weight of large trucks. The highway department wants to turn Highway 187 into a short-cut to carry transportation around the city of Eureka Springs at the height of our tourist season.

Ironically the residents of Beaver, for reasons inexplicable in the 21st Century, prefer their town to be a wonderful place to live, rather than a short-cut and by-pass for those who have little regard for anything remotely resembling 19th Century concepts of home and community. Most of us who live in this part of the county love the bridge and recognize it as being a tremendous asset to our tourist economy.

With the old bridge at Beaver, before it was covered by floodwaters, crossing was always a matter of courtesy and taking turns. There were times when the bridge would be out of commission for periods during the day when repairs were being made. There were months earlier in its life when it was out of commission as it was undergoing periodic restoration. But the inconvenience of those times was not a concern to residents of Beaver in comparison to the loss of those defining elements of community that would be at risk if the Beaver Bridge were no more.

No doubt, there are those at the Arkansas Highway Department that are basking now in the glory of their I-told-you-sos, who will try to use this flood as the excuse to abandon the bridge and proceed with their plans for replacement. My sincere hope is that they realize that what they are inclined to abandon must instead be restored and preserved.

I have the temerity to suggest that time is not money. It is best measured in other things, like attention, compassion, neighborly concern, the sensing of beauty, the discovery of truth and the exercise of craftsmanship. We choose either expedience or wisdom in framing our reality and the difference is measured in the quality of our lives.

In the photos you see the opening of the floodgates of Beaver dam to a record height, and the resulting inundation of the Beaver bridge. When the water level drops, highway engineers will assess its safety and make recommendations. Now, however is the time to lobby strongly in its behalf. More photos of the Beaver Bridge can be found here.

1 comment:

  1. Doug, I sure hope you and the people of Beaver prevail. I bet you're right, the powers will use it as a ace in their hand.