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Thanking My New Transportation Authority Friends

A question asked and an effort beyond regular duties results in a different angle from which to cover a story.

I'm a big fan of the philosophy of "you won't know unless you ask."

On Tuesday, I was doing some advance coverage of Wednesday's shipment of cargo cranes to the Seagirt Marine Terminal—an action that would temporarily close the Bay and Key bridges to traffic.

The m/v Zhen Hua 13, sitting low in the water and loaded with four, 14-story, state-of-the-art cargo cranes, was scheduled to arrive at Seagirt late Wednesday afternoon.

Members of the media were invited to the marine terminal to get the story, and were also encouraged to gather at Sandy Point State Park to shoot photos as the ship passed under the Bay Bridge.

Because the Maryland Transportation Authority officials made the decision to close the spans, I thought I'd call them to see if I could shoot pictures from the Key Bridge while it was closed to traffic.

In the competitive spirit of journalism, I was looking for a way to get photos that no one else would have.

Well, as it turned out, transportation authority officials would not permit any civilians on the Key Bridge during that time.

But thanks to the efforts of spokeswoman Lesli Leath, I was escorted to a restricted area beneath the bridge, where I was able to shoot photos for the story.

I got to ride shotgun in the unmarked police car of Sgt. Kirk Perez—a first for me—and I was accompanied by Leath and her colleague, John Sales.

A small crowd of transportation authority employees gathered on a pier that jutted out into the water, parallel to the bridge.

Folks chatted and shot still photos and video while enjoying a sight never before seen in Baltimore.

I even got to meet, however briefly, Harold M. Bartlett, the authority's executive secretary.

A man approached me and told me to be careful because some boards on the pier were sticking up, causing a tripping hazard.

I thanked him and he walked away.

"Do you who he is?" Leath asked.

When I confessed that I didn't, she informed me that the helpful guy was Bartlett.

The arrival of the new cranes ushers in a new way of doing business for the Port of Baltimore, where officials expect nearly 6,000 new jobs to be created in the next few years.

But for those of us who aren't up on all the details of a working port, witnessing the passing of the ship under the bridge was just a pretty cool thing to see.

And I thank Leath, Sales and Perez for giving me a front row seat.

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