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Surveillance Cameras Watch Over Longest Bridge in the World

Published by Dan on March 7, 2007 10:43 AM

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in southern Louisiana is comprised of two parallel bridges regarded as the most expansive in the world. The longer of the two bridges runs 23.87 miles. Clearly, a bridge system of this magnitude is quite difficult to monitor, but a recently installed $1.3 million surveillance camera system is helping to change that.

The surveillance system, which was installed about 6 months ago, features 29 video cameras mounted at various points along the bridge, with some positioned at the crossovers, on the drawbridge, and below the spans. The cameras have pan, tilt, and zoom capabilities, and can see for distances up to 1 ½ miles. With cameras placed every three miles, the system provides a bird's eye view of the entire length of the 24-mile bridge. After months of testing, it became operational two months ago. The benefits of video surveillance on the Causeway are bountiful. Employees can monitor traffic patterns, and quickly locate and respond to problems such as accidents, broken-down cars, and debris at any point along the bridge. This will help to keep traffic moving, and also aids in the safety of those traveling along the Causeway. The surveillance cameras will also prove useful in tracking criminals on the run. Law enforcement officials will have access to video footage that captures images of people in their vehicles, the make and model of the vehicles, as well as license plate numbers. A couple of unique examples have already proven the system's worth. In one instance, a life was spared, as a woman in distress was spotted exiting her vehicle and crying. She approached the guard rail with the apparent intent to jump, but employees monitoring the scene unfold dispatched a police officer to the scene. The quick response allowed the officer to arrive at the scene in time to convince the woman to step back from the rail and return to safety. In another incident, video surveillance was used to spare taxpayers the $15,000 cost of replacing an attenuator hit by a driver who at first claimed no responsibility. Camera footage proved that the driver had in fact hit the attenuator, and he was confronted by employees during his next pass across the bridge. The Causeway video surveillance system is monitored on two flat-screen televisions at the toll plaza in Metairie. A separate pair of monitors also allows for viewing traffic at a 360-degree angle. During morning and afternoon rush hours, two employees keep watch over the camera footage, while a single employee mans the helm the remainder of the day. The new camera system that watches over the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway demonstrates the effectiveness of video surveillance in a unique area that would otherwise be impossible to sufficiently monitor. It is, after all, the longest bridge in the world. Read more in The Times-Picayune...