Changed, all changed

Published 8:23 pm Thursday, October 24, 2013

Everything changes, and nothing ever stays the same. It’s one of those odd facts of life that actually becomes harder to accept the older we become.

The places where we grew up are destined for renovation, rebuilding, re-imagination or — in extreme cases — the wrecking ball. The things that most definitively shaped our young memories will surely pass away, and all too many of them will be gone while we’re still alive to see it happen.

As one of the fastest-growing cities in Virginia, Suffolk is especially prone to both the ravages and renewals of change. And nowhere in Suffolk have the effects of change been more pronounced than in North Suffolk, where the opening of Route 664 brought a wave of growth that has still not subsided.

Email newsletter signup

The effects of change are evident in Harbour View, which used to be farmland; in Bennett’s Creek, where a long-popular restaurant was replaced by a drugstore; along Shoulders Hill Road, which today is lined with housing developments; and along Route 17, where the home of the iconic Purple Lady gave way to a medical facility.

More evidence of the inexorable nature of change in Suffolk came this week with the announcement by Suffolk officials that in November they will reduce the speed limit along Bridge Road (Route 17 to us old-timers) to 45 miles per hour along its entire length in Suffolk.

Some folks in Suffolk can recall when there were no stoplights on that road, when the speed limit was at least 55 mph, and when the greatest hazard drivers faced was a stray cow in the road. There were no convenience stores or shopping centers or housing developments to slow the traffic during those days.

Everything changes. And even the things that already have changed will change. More stoplights will be installed along Bridge Road, more shopping centers and housing developments will be built, and more of the cars they both attract will clog the highway. And at some point, some city engineer will conclude the 45 mph limit is unsafe, and she’ll recommend that it be cut back to 35 mph.

In other words, don’t get too used to the way even North Suffolk looks right now, because in 40 years, it’s all likely to be different, and a generation of middle-aged Suffolk natives will look back, scratching their heads, wondering whatever became of the city they remember from their childhood. And then they’ll say, with some bewilderment, “Changed, all changed.”