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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-06-072
Date: March 2006

Multiyear Plan for Bridge and Tunnel Security Research, Development, and Deployment


The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) national security strategic goal is to improve highway security and support national defense mobility through collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and our State, local government, private sector, and other Federal Agency partners. FHWA has further developed four objectives to meet this security strategic goal:

  1. Develop a close working relationship with DHS and collaborate on establishment and implementation of highway-related security standards, administration of financial assistance for security initiatives, and distribution of threat and other sensitive security information to the highway industry.
  2. Support national disaster preparedness, and response and recovery efforts.
  3. Coordinate with our Nation's military and transportation owners/operators to ensure adequate transportation facilities and operation in support of military deployment.
  4. Initiate and facilitate research and technology development in support of a more secure highway system

This report, developed by the Office of Infrastructure Research and Development (R&D), proposes a plan addressing objectives 2 and 4 above. The plan focuses on bridge and tunnel security. R&D associated with securing other parts of our national highway system is being addressed by other offices within FHWA.

It has been repeatedly stated that the surface transportation system is a resilient system, and except in a few major metropolitan areas and during peak periods, our national transportation network has significant redundancy (i.e., there are readily available alternate routes and alternate transportation modes). However, what is not so well documented is the enormous impact a damaged bridge or tunnel may have on a city, region, or possibly even the Nation's economy. This is especially true if the restoration and reopening of the damaged structure and/or network were to take an extended period of time, which will typically be the case for major structures. Because terrorism is an unpredictable event, it is more appropriate to rely on layers of security rather than on a single measure. In the long run, however, to ensure continued functionality of the Nation's physical infrastructure, it would be more appropriate to develop cost-effective designs utilizing improved materials, components, and structural systems, rather than relying solely on techniques for detection and surveillance.

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