"There's no worry in the transportation industry that [security] will be a fad," noted Steve Heminger, executive director of the Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation Commission. But building to decrease congestion and to enhance service must not be forgotten. "We must blur the distinction between planner and builder...," he said. "We all have to be managers."
Deputy U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Michael P. Jackson vowed that "we've not in one way stepped away from our core goals." But while every sector continues to seek funding for construction-related upgrades, they now are also spending money and labor on making reports assessing vulnerability to terrorism, acquiring high-tech tools and training staffs for emergency response.
Administrators of every federal transportation sector clustered together on a spotlight panel, joined by John Magaw, head of the newly formed Transportation Security Administration. Maritime counterpart Bruce Carlton said that infrastructure upgrade grants will be awarded to ports demonstrating need. Roads related to the U.S.-Mexican trade border will also get $56 million for infrastructure, noted Joseph Clapp, his peer in motor carrier safety. And highway and rail officials echoed the need for redundancymaking sure there is more than one route between any two points.
Dozens of sessions were devoted to high-tech ways of tracking movements of ships, vehicles and trains, and of identifying contractors on the job. Lawrence Reuter, president of New York City Transit, said contractors working on the damaged tunnels were able to get on site without proper identification. He recommended using holographic passes, biometrics and monitoring the Internet for illegal sales of agency apparel.
Ken Philmus, director of tunnels, bridges and terminals department for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said that in New York City, single-occupancy vehicle bans during rush hour means more traffic as people try to beat the bans. "But that's when we schedule work. That's giving us difficulty in completing construction jobs," he said.
"There will be more collaboration" between traditional designers, owners and contractors and technology experts than ever," predicted Paul Skoutelas, chief operating officer of the Pittsburgh Port Authority. But with all the gee-whiz gadgets that will be available, "the challenge is to sort out what you need."
Neil Pedersen, a Maryland Dept. of Transportation deputy administrator, stressed that implementing security systems and operators could cost millions of dollars nationwide and "could divert resources from traditional projects." Designs will be affected as well: "Rather than a single bridge of eight lanes, maybe you'll build two separate structures," he says.ransportation officials vowed that while high technology and heightened training to deal with terrorist acts will not fade from their long-term agenda, neither will the construction needs of existing infrastructure. At the 81st annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board held last week in Washington, D.C., the Sept. 11 attacks on the twin towers and the Pentagon served as a point of resolve for members of an industry that has more of the nation's attention than it did before.