New Jersey to Build Security Fence Shielding Rail Cars

New Jersey is trying to thwart terrorist attacks on freight trains carrying chemicals through a proposed building of a 10-foot-high security fence along 2.6-miles of right-of-way near the New Jersey Turnpike.

Ninety-ton tank cars often travel in plain view of motorists carrying chlorine, ammonia and other hazardous materials on a stretch of rail known locally as Chemical Alley.

The $6 million project would include motion sensors and closed-circuit television to monitor rail cars. The fence would obstruct the view of rail cars from anyone traveling along the turnpike.

"We think the fence is a strong deterrent," Roger Shatzkin, New Jersey homeland security office spokesman, told USRN. "Physical security is not only target hardening and making areas impenetrable, but it also is essentially disguising what assets there are."

State homeland security officials also are reviewing security risks at the approximately 50 rail yards in New Jersey to find other methods to protect them, he said.

"One Piece of the Pie"

"The fence is really one piece of a much larger passenger rail andfreight rail strategy," Shatzkin said. "It is perhaps the smallest piece of the security upgrades we are doing throughout the state regarding freight rail."

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security raised the security issueabout the northbound side of the New Jersey Turnpike after bombings in recent years of commuter trains in Spain, England and India.

New Jersey plans to build the security fence in three sections: a one-mile segment near Conoco-Phillips' Bayway Refinery in Linden; and1.1-mile and half-mile fences near Port Newark/Elizabeth.

Gov. John Corzine (D) told the state's homeland security office three months ago to develop a rail safety plan. The New Jersey TurnpikeAuthority's executive board voted last week to approve the fence. Contracts are scheduled to be awarded after Jan. 4, when the bids will be unsealed. The fence is planned to be completed in the spring.

Operating procedures of freight railroads, such as Conrail, require that tank cars not be left near the turnpike when they are filled with hazardous materials. Nevertheless, New Jersey homeland security officials said the public perception that the rail cars could be attacked was good enough reason for the security fence.