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Seattle Times photographers offer a glimpse into what inspires their best visual reporting.

August 31, 2014 at 5:21 PM

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Working up high — Tacoma Narrows Bridge


I've always wanted to go to the top of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and when WSDOT gave me permission to photograph two of their bridge maintenance specialists recently, I was thrilled.

I was asked several times if I am afraid of heights, which I am not, as long as I have a camera in my hand. We took an elevator almost to the top of the bridge. Both of the bridges have elevators in the west towers; on the east towers, stairs go to the top.

After taking the elevator, we climbed up two ladders attached to interior walls inside the tower. There is a huge area at the top where it is very safe and you can easily walk from one to the other side of the bridge.

When driving to the bridge, a sign warned of severe winds at the bridge, and I thought it might be scary, it turned out the winds weren't too strong and it wasn't frightening to look down. Until hours later when I saw the GoPro video that Steve Hodge shot as he was working on the cables.

He agreed to wear the camera as he worked and climbed up the cables with his colleague, Tom Courtney. The footage he shot while sitting on the cable and looking down on both sides was very intense. Hodge said that his family thinks he's nuts for doing what he does for a living.

I was lucky to be able to hang out for awhile at his workplace and am luckier to have the best job in the world.



ELLEN M. BANNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Steve Hodge, left, and Tom Courtney, both bridge maintenance specialists for the Washington State Department of Transportation, climb on the cables up to the top of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge as they do their monthly cable inspection. The men check the hand rails, casting bolts, paint basically every nook and cranny along the cables supporting the bridge deck. Nine inspectors carry out this work.

This player was created in September 2012 to update the design of the embed player with chromeless buttons. It is used in all embedded video on The Seattle Times as well as outside sites.

ELLEN M. BANNER & KATIE G. COTTERILL / THE SEATTLE TIMES

ELLEN M. BANNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

The view from the top of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Tacoma, looking at eastbound traffic.



ELLEN M. BANNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Steve Hodge, left, and Tom Courtney, both bridge maintenance specialists for the Washington State Department of Transportation, sit while working on the cables that support the bridge deck.

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