Monday, July 13, 2009

The Winds Of Change Sweeping Away Sunset Beach Bridge

This article by Myrtle Beach's The Sun News, regarding the eventual removal of the swinging pontoon draw bridge at Sunset Beach, comes on the heels of my family's annual pilgrimage to the state's southern-most beach.

My family has taken a week-long trip to Sunset for the last six years, and my mother's family used to own a residence on the mainland side of the Intracoastal Waterway for decades. As long as I can remember, Sunset Beach has been "the beach" anytime the term has been used by me or my family.

So it's with a heavy heart that I've watched over the last half-decade as the final days of the great, unique bridge have drawn slowly closer and closer. The bridge is as much a part of the beach experience as any other aspect of our trips.

Eating dinner at Twin Lakes, tight-roping on the large braided ropes that span the pilings in the parking lots, watching the bridge begin its slow, plodding opening...the connectors popping up...the steel cable running from the pontoon section to the cable tower snapping taught, tossing up a line of water...the loud grinding rumble of the tower pulling the pontoon its way...the bridge's methodical arc widening as it's done hundreds of thousands of times before. Nothing interrupted a good game of chicken on the Twin Lakes ropes with li'l sis like the spectacle of the Sunset Bridge opening.

The real treats were seeing the mega vessels that came upon the bridge. A huge yacht...a construction barge...only the biggest of watercraft carried the clout to force a bridge opening at a time other than the top of the hour. To my dad's credit, he never once got irritated at an unexpected bridge opening (always guaranteeing a good 10-15 delay on where you were headed, either on or off the island). I think he enjoyed seeing the big ships glide by just as much as those of us in the back seat, our heads craning out of the windows to get a better look. A time or two he'd even park it, kill the engine and walk out with us to get a better view.

These are the memories that the future generations of Sunset Beach beachgoers will never know. They'll zip over the waterway, unable to see the water below them, nor the vessels that will now traverse up and down the waterway unimpeded.

The only constant is change, and I suppose it's on us to roll with it. As the article mentions, it's only by sheer luck that no one on the island died due to emergency services being unable to reach them due to a bridge opening. The new bridge will ensure EMS can breath a little easier in that respect.

But that first time I have to drive over the new bridge in the summer of 2010, near where the old one used to float, creak, rattle and groan through its everyday duties, I'll probably shake my head and bemoan the consequences of change--however necessary.

1 comment:

A.E. Jimmy said...

Nice post. Change is inevitable. The flip side of your argument is that that bridge backed up traffic big time.