Maryland Upgrading Surveillance Of Highway Bridges

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Though it’s been over a decade since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the government is working through lists of targets that need better protection.

Mike Schuh reports the state now is able to upgrade its surveillance of crucial highway bridges.

Soon, all five of Maryland’s major highway bridges are going to get $11 million in surveillance security upgrades. You may scarcely be aware as you cross over one, but bridges are terrorist targets.

“This project will include cameras on the bridges, as well as the approach roadways,” said Cheryl Sparks, MdTA spokesperson.

The idea is that it’s a lot smarter and cheaper to protect these five crucial highway bridges than to rebuild at a cost of nearly $2 billion and five years disruption.

The piers that hold up the bridge are pretty easy to secure on land but a 2005 study paid for by the Homeland Security Department showed that those out in the water are vulnerable to attack.

Below the road deck, a boat can motor right up to one of the piers in the water, but few people are at the waterline to see and prevent a terrorist as they try to blow up the bridge. Recently, DNR Police installed its own eight camera, eight radar unit surveillance system for boats under and around the Bay Bridge. This system will tie into the new MdTA control room.

“This is an incident detection project, so we will monitor the cameras and respond to them as the alerts come off,” Sparks said.

Not only will cameras monitor the roadways but the support piers as well.

The work on this is expected to begin shortly. It will take 18 months to complete.

The $11 million it will take to complete the surveillance project will be funded entirely by highway tolls at MdTA crossings.

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