| The Daytona Seashore Information-Journal
When the Orange Avenue drawbridge got here right down to make manner for a brand new high-rise span, Dustin Inventory understandably started considering his long-range job safety.
As a bridge tender at Daytona Seashore’s solely remaining drawbridge — the Major Road Bridge, now one among simply three drawbridges crossing the intracoastal waterway in Volusia County — he wasn’t simply trying over his shoulder for oncoming boats, however for indicators of high-rise ambitions.
Sitting on 17 years of county service, at simply 38 years outdated, Inventory says he’d gladly join one other 13 years to achieve the 30-year county retirement threshold, and he has two vital elements working in his favor — one of many life-and-death selection.
First, the county has no present plans to switch the 61-year-old Major Road Bridge, based on Ben Bartlett, director of the county’s highway and bridge division. If for no different cause, there’s the necessity for a decrease bridge in case of extraordinarily excessive winds, since emergency autos would quite not problem the gusts invited by the next span.
As for who — or what — operates the remaining draw bridges, the human issue wins out, as Inventory was lately reminded.
A giant pink button, sitting alone on the far proper facet of Inventory’s Major Road Bridge management panel, has the phrases Emergency Cease slightly below it.
“You ever must hit that one?” he’s requested.
Humorous it’s best to ask, his wide-eyed look suggests.
“The final time I needed to hit it was when somebody began strolling up the span when it began going up,” he says. “This woman was standing there, stopped, then she began strolling up. I slammed the button, she seemed round and jumped again to the walkway.
“Once I was about to boost the span, I noticed her and he or she was again far sufficient, so I believe ‘she’s not gonna stroll up the span because it goes up. Who would do this?’ Then I see her getting increased and I’m like, ‘Crap!’ ”
Standing close by, Bartlett chimes in with the plain.
“That’s the primary cause you’ll by no means exchange an precise bridge tender with a distant.”
Excellent job for 2020
Inventory, a New Smyrna Seashore native, acquired his tending job by way of phrase of mouth 17 years in the past.
“I used to be between jobs and any individual advised me they’re hiring for a bridge tender,” he says. “I mentioned yeah, that sounds fairly good.”
He’s one among 9 present Volusia County bridge tenders working the 2 county-operated bascule-type drawbridges over the Halifax River — Major Road and the Knox Memorial Bridge at Highbridge Street simply north of Ormond Seashore.
Three different Volusia bridges are operated by the Florida Division of Transportation — the North Causeway in New Smyrna Seashore, which additionally crosses the Intracoastal, and two bridges over the St. Johns River, one on State Street 40 and one other on S.R. 44, which is able to quickly give method to the next bridge.
Bartlett says the county had 12 bridge tenders on workers when the previous Orange Avenue Bridge was nonetheless standing, they usually acquired to 9 by way of vacancies and retirements.
“It’s sort of a singular place inside Street and Bridge within the county,” Bartlett says. “It’s the one place within the county that’s a 24-hour-a-day place. That is the one 24-hour, 365-day job. Now we have a mixture of bridge tenders, some youthful folks and a few staff who do it after retiring from one thing else.
“In case you’re good working by your self and don’t thoughts sitting in a room for eight hours a day, it’s a very good job for you.”
Throughout this yr of the pandemic, many individuals have adjusted to working remotely, typically in a makeshift house workplace, with out the same old hustle and bustle of humanity throughout the desk, coming down the corridor, or gathering round a convention desk.
Inventory, who works the eight a.m.-to-Four p.m. shift, mastered the go-it-alone technique years in the past.
“It’s good for me working on my own. There’s no reliance on another person. It’s a pleasant chill atmosphere,” he says.
A set directive
With out set occasions for opening and shutting the span, Inventory depends on his personal eyes scanning north and south for oncoming boats too tall to clear the bridge, or radio alerts from an approaching vessel — or each. Some days, particularly when the climate is tough, these span risings may be few and much between, and that’s when self-entertainment turns into vital.
“I’m a musician on the facet, so I deliver my guitar with me some days,” he says. “There are some days after I go straight from right here to a gig, so I deliver the guitar to observe.”
Some 15 miles to the north, at Knox Bridge on Highbridge Street, Alaina Mosley fills the down time by crocheting, a interest she’s had since age 11.
“I could make something, actually something,” says the 36-year-old Edgewater resident. “I’ll both crochet or work on another artwork undertaking.”
Mosley has been elevating and decreasing bridge spans for 13 years, previously at Major Road and Orange Avenue earlier than transferring north to Highbridge, which she has come to take pleasure in.
“I prefer it right here higher. It’s quieter,” says Mosley, whose character, like Inventory’s, appears fitted to a job with no looming bosses or co-workers and a fairly particular accountability.
“I like working on my own and having a set directive,” she says.
Each Inventory and Mosley say it’s not oncoming boats that trigger stress, nor car site visitors — although, Inventory says, he’ll get the occasional hand sign from a annoyed motorist.
“Automobiles generally run the gates and run the lights,” he says, “however you will get all of the pedestrian site visitors that gums up the works after I’m simply making an attempt to open the bridge.”
At each Major Road and Highbridge, typically it’s fishermen who stray too far towards the bridge’s middle span searching for a catch — “generally I’ve to bang on the window and wave them again,” Inventory says.
Mosley, who additionally works the day shift, agrees that fishermen could cause occasional stress, although it isn’t too huge of a deal.
“You get some who’re impolite and don’t observe the legal guidelines,” she says. “However we’re up to now up in the course of nowhere, it’s higher to get alongside peacefully. That’s all I care about … if there’s a gap, be protected. They often know, don’t mess with ‘Day Shift.’ ”