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A High-tech Keep Out

Posted on April 16, 2007

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The following story, written by Megan Tench, appeared in the Boston Globe on Saturday, April 14, 2007

It was a little after 10 p.m. Thursday when the late model Jeep Cherokee burst through the yellow gate marking the bus entrance of the Silver Line portal in South Boston.

And then it happened.

The ground in front of the wayward SUV started to rise, and a metal barricade was suddenly blocking passage through the tunnel, protecting the portal, which allows buses to enter and exit South Station.

The unidentified SUV driver threw the car into reverse, hitting a wall, before speeding off, MBTA officials said.

Transit police are viewing videos from five surveillance cameras to get a license place number and track down the driver.

"Theoretically the car could go all the way to the South Station underground," said Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority general manager Daniel A. Grabauskas. "But the metal plate in the floor lifts itself up as a wall before anything gets through there. The folks that designed it said you could drive a tank at 40 miles per hour" and not be able to break through the barrier.

When the SUV arrived at the yellow gate, the system immediately recognized it as an unauthorized vehicle, Grabauskas said. And when it entered the tunnel, which is 1.1 miles long, Grabauskas said, alarms alerted the transit police.

According to officials, the Jeep was white or silver, had a roof and ski rack, and a transponder affixed to the windshield, say officials.

Grabauskas applauded the security system. "In December 2004 when we opened that tunnel, it was the first tunnel to open in the US after 9/11," he said. "We invested $3 million in intrusion detection devices and a barrier system to not allow any unauthorized vehicles into the tunnel.

"It is good to know the investment is paying off," he said. Image removed.


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