A 360° camera is not going to help me dunk a basketball.
It did, however, give me about seven more inches while I toured the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge project in Portsmouth, N.H., back in May. I needed more assistance getting up after being down on all fours; seriously, forget the help that would have me executing a two-handed, backboard chattering monster slam. I just wanted to stand back up. I am about 6 ft 6 in. tall, and during my visit to the northeast I came equipped with a 360° camera mounted on my hardhat. The addition to my frame gave me more height, and when you are crawling into the deck of a precast segmental concrete bridge, more height means more knee and back pain plus a few more knocks on the hardhat (fortunately the camera made it through without a scratch).
The end result, however, was incredible. From an app on my phone, I can order the camera to take a still or a video clip from wherever I was standing. After I came back from New Hampshire, I was all jacked to carry this new element of covering a project visit with me everywhere I went. However, “everywhere” has been hard to get to lately. After the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge visit, I had my sights set on the Bayonne Bridge project. Crews have installed a new road deck 64 ft above the original deck, which was built back in 1931, and traffic has been moving on the new part since February, but there is still a lot of work to be done on the travel lanes. There will be two 12-ft-wide lanes in each direction, the inner and outer shoulders, and a shared-use path for cyclists and pedestrians. The job is supposed to be completed in 2019, and I thought it would be a great idea to use the 360° camera to drive over the bridge and then capture flat and full-circle images on the other parts still under construction. I have reached out to the owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, several times via phone and email. My messages have not been returned. I relaunched my search after several weeks of dead ends and reached out to a second person with the Port Authority. The person told me not to worry, that someone would reach out to me soon. Finally, words were exchanged and a human connection was established. However, this person quickly fell into the mysterious abyss that appears to be lashing its tongue around anyone I try and contact at the public affairs office and pulling them down into a depth of nothingness. I went back to my original contact, threatening to take my experience to the very pages of Roads & Bridges magazine. I guess that came across like a fuzzy, warm kitty, because the cold shoulder did not show a drip of weakness. Maybe all of the tongues of the people who could help me have now become attached to this block of frozen unresponsiveness. Perhaps schedules have filled out of control. Perhaps something bad has happened at the site. I don’t know, because I have not received word from the Port Authority for weeks. Not a single word actually. If you live by the Port Authority office, could you let me know if the abyss has taken over, and if the rest of the country is in danger? Perhaps everyone who reads this column could call on my behalf? I really would like a tour, and what I would like more is to share it with you, because this 360° capability really puts coverage above the rim.