Behind the scenes with TDOT bridge inspectors

Weekend Extra

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nashvillians are on the move, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation is going above and beyond to make sure we all get there safely.

News 2’s Brie Thiele takes us behind-the-scenes with TDOT bridge inspectors to show us how they keep Nashville moving, and if you’re afraid of heights, you may want to look away.

“This feels extremely high up!” Thiele remarked, and if you consider “extreme” 160 feet up, out and over the Cumberland River, then yeah, it’s extreme!

But it’s all in a days work for TDOT Bridge Technician, David Holt.

“I have no problem with heights, but when you factor in the wind, that’s when it kind of gets scary, that’s when my stomach gets to going,” laughed Holt.

And windy it was when Thiele went up to inspect the Korean Veterans Bridge for things like cracks and rust.

But first, you’ve got to get buckled in!

“The only time I’ve worn a harness like this is when I’ve gone bungee-jumping off a bridge or sky-diving out of an airplane and I’m not banking on either of those happening so… [fingers crossed],” said Thiele.

Up, up and away we went!

“Ahhh!” Thiele screamed, “Eighty feet up guys, this is really, really scary!”

And that’s 80 feet over the roadway, there’s another 80 feet down to the river.

Under this bridge, lies an intricate catwalk system of pathways that also get inspected.

So if the height doesn’t get you, the spiders and snakes most likely will.

“Those are pretty sketchy because I don’t like spiders, I don’t like snakes, and they’re always there and we always run into them, so I kind of just move quickly through it,” said Holt.

Being quick on your feet is a good skill to have if you’re inspecting 3,000 bridges a year.

Each bridge in the state, like the KVB Bridge downtown, is on a two-year inspection rotation.

And while this job is not for the weak of heart, the views are unparalleled.

“This one right here is pretty cool though because of the scenery,” explained Holt. “You know you’ve got the river, you’ve got Nashville right behind us, so I have to say that this one’s probably my favorite.”

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