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Column: Though change can be difficult, upcoming updates exciting

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From: Sheila Thompson


I cannot imagine how many times I’ve made the trip up and down Carr Hill Road in the past 35 years.

It was 1979 when we moved just off Carr Hill Road to Mutz Drive. For many years we turned off the highway onto what is now Morgan Willow Trace.

On the corner was an abandoned, old, brick two-story house. Next to it was a tobacco barn with a tobacco patch.

Late summer saw the tobacco harvested and hung in that old dilapidated barn to dry. Just past the barn was what used to be a bus garage and then became home to Willoughby Trucking, much to the delight of our small son who loved to watch the semis.

The road was curvy and narrow, making meeting oncoming cars sometimes a driving adventure.

The first corner closest to State Road 46 was prone to flooding, and it made for slow going during rainy seasons. As the years went on, the culverts were worn down, and the corner was sometimes completely under water.

Cornfields were on both sides of the road. When the corn grew to its tallest, if felt like we were traveling through a walled canyon.

I remember looking forward to seeing the red-winged blackbirds that would come each summer. And when the lightning bugs were twinkling each summer night, it felt like we were driving through fields of diamonds.

Our son and daughter learned to drive on this old road. I think I’ll always remember that first drive up the steep hill the day our daughter got her license. Both became good drivers, thanks to learning on our crooked road.

Weather would make the road treacherous. The snows would blow and drift across the road. The winter of the blizzard found our daughter’s boyfriend stuck in the middle of the two curves. He was rescued and brought to our house for the night, much to his delight.

I think it was during that same winter storm that our son’s friend was going down the hill, ran off the road and landed straddling the road sign warning of the curves. Several times I felt the car sliding when I didn’t realize the hill was covered in black ice. And once we saw a school bus turned on its side near a steep drop-off.

I won’t tell you about the time I ran out of gas in the middle of the road and made my kids get in the car with a stranger to take us back up the hill.

The years have brought change; some I wasn’t too anxious for but have grown to appreciate. The road that used to dead-end just past McDonald’s is now the new Carr Hill Road. Where cornfields once were are large box stores, where we frequently shop.

Large retaining ponds have become a watering hole for countless Canada geese. Our grandchildren love to watch the geese, ducks and occasional fishermen that gather there.

Apartments have sprung up, along with a new housing addition. Where once was the old Lienhoop farmhouse and apple orchard is now a beautiful subdivision, The Orchard.

Walkers have enjoyed the sidewalk that was put in at the time of subdivision construction, but it came to an abrupt end, giving way to the old narrow roadway. And that is just the story of the east side of Carr Hill Road.

More changes are coming with the Carr Hill Road construction project. Where we once felt like we lived out in the country, we now live very close to a busy road that has needed improvement for quite a while.

Our kids used to ride bikes up and down the roadway, back when the traffic was much less. I would never allow our grandchildren to venture onto the roadway these days.

Barricades went up early last week, and for the next six months we will now take the long way to get groceries. I don’t mind. Widening of the road and redesigning the curves will make the road so much nicer.

When the project was first announced several years ago, I thought construction time would never get here. But it’s finally arrived, and I can’t wait to see the new road later this year.

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