Florida and Bridges


When I first moved to Florida, back in 2001, bridges were not my best friends, actually I tried to avoid them at all cost. The new Roosevelt Bridge especially which is a major highway segmental bridge across the St. Lucie River in Stuart, Florida carrying U.S. Route 1 (Federal Highway; unsigned State Road 5), which was completed in 1996 to take the place of the old Roosevelt Bridge, which had twin parallel drawbridges, one for northbound traffic (opened in 1934) and the other for southbound (opened in 1964.), which is still open for road and boat traffic as a two way traffic drawbridge. So high that new bridge, I thought, for what? I lived in Port St. Lucie, so avoiding the bridges was not a big deal, until I landed a job in Stuart.

I decided I would head into Stuart each morning via the old Roosevelt Bridge and it fared me well, until one morning it got stuck in the up position and I had no alternative but to take a deep breath, turn my car around and head toward the new Roosevelt Bridge. By the time I had gotten to Frank’n Stein, Etc. at Dixie and turned left at the light onto Wright Blvd., my heart was already in my throat. As that familiar panic attack set in, I moved my way toward US Hwy 1 and made the left from Wright Blvd., onto the new Roosevelt Bridge. As I approached the crest of the bridge the traffic started to slow. "I'll be fine" I said to myself, then the traffic stopped, it stopped! There I was at the top of the bridge in grid lock traffic, feeling as if I were going to pass out. A tractor trailer to the left of me, in front of me cars as far as I could see. Taking a look in the rear view, there was traffic for at least a mile behind my car. No way out. My fight or flight response was setting in as I looked to my right, and realized I was in the far-right lane, the one closest to the edge of the bridge.

A woman was running toward me on the sidewalk, then passed me. As she left my peripheral vision another woman came up behind my car on the sidewalk, she too was happily accomplishing her morning jog. As she disappeared over the bridge, I shifted my attention to the water. My panic took a turn and softened as I watched a sailboat make its way through the small bridge that was stuck open. The sun had risen to a point in the morning where the water danced with sparkles like diamonds from the sun's light while birds sailed effortlessly in and out and around the sails of the boats resting in the Sunset Bay Marina and tethered sporadically in the waterway. I felt a smile form at the corners of my mouth and I carried it out to a childish grin knowing I could not be afraid of such a beautiful vision, I would not pass out. My breathing began to return to normal, the traffic started to move, and the sailboat lazily disappeared under my tires on the sixty-five-foot-high Roosevelt Bridge. "Oh, that's why the bridge is so high", I thought as I excelled and drove off the bridge into downtown Stuart.

My fear of the new Roosevelt Bridge was conquered that day, I looked forward to taking the same route home to see the northbound side and the river scene. So the next time you're driving over the new Roosevelt Bridge in the early morning hours, or over any one of the many beautiful Martin County bridges you may find that I am that woman, on the bridge, smiling as I master the crest.

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