Why There are Bridges in Phoenix

by swellsbennett

Monsoon season has started in Arizona. In a state renowned for its lack of bad weather, the next two to three months are what would be called the off-season. Higher humidity, blowing dust storms, and the occasional rain shower will be in the forecast around here. For a native Arizonan like me, monsoons are something to look forward to: a little less sun, an occasional change from blue skies to gray ones.

When I was a kid living in the desert, the storms provided an explanation for all the bridges around the valley. If you have ever visited our state, you’ve probably seen them: structures to carry the population over brush and sand. One of those bridges wasn’t too far from the house where I grew up. I remember the first time I ever saw that bridge serve its purpose, as a flood of water swept away the desert vegetation that had foolishly made its home in the dry riverbed. I had never seen water like that before: rushing, muddy, and deadly.

The monsoon season is also the reason that Arizona has the Stupid Motorist Law. Every year of my life, I have turned on the evening news to see some latter-day Tom Sawyer floating down an impromptu river on their makeshift raft (previously known as a car). Most of the time, it’s funny. Sometimes, it’s tragic. As if swimming pools weren’t enough of a drowning danger for Arizona kids, they also have to fear that their parents won’t be smart enough to stay out of washes during floods.

Here’s hoping the monsoon is everything it’s supposed to be this year: wet, stormy, and refreshing. And if you find yourself out driving in the middle of a flash-flood warning, stay behind the barricades.

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