I'm hoping that Madison County does not change its basic nature and character because of this road or anything else. I'm hoping that there will be a time of stabilization where there will be enough industry to attract the people that live in the county where the kids don't move away [and] where it maintains its population.
Starting in the latter part of the 20th century and carrying over into the 21st century, Madison County (like many rural communities throughout the United States) has found it increasingly difficult to retain its youth. Young people who leave for education or career opportunities are less likely than previous generations to return home to raise families of their own. For those who do, the appeal of rural communities has outweighed increased opportunities available in more populated areas.
However, more often than not, young people from rural communities are choosing to seek financial possibilities not available in their hometowns. As quoted earlier, "Good roads take people both ways. They bring them into the community, but they also take them out of the community." Some Madison County residents hoped that I-26 and the commerce it offered would shift the scale, supplying economic opportunities that would help to retain the county's youth.
Madison County community leaders were pulled in many directions as they tried to retain local populations, increase economic benefits, and maintain small town ideals. They were faced with many difficult questions as they attempted to establish balance among seemingly opposing goals. As you explored the story of Madison County, what ideas crossed your mind? Did this county's story remind you of any developments affecting your own community? Can you think of ways in which a community can grow without losing its closeness?