As we all know, the world changed on September 11, 2001. With the passage of Homeland Security funds a variety of Federal agencies found different ways to increase security of our nation’s infrastructure. Lost to what seems as any rational oversight and review are how these agencies spent the security dollars.
Within two years of the terrorist attacks the Folsom Dam road was closed. Folsom Dam, operated by the Bureau of Reclamation, was one of the few dams that you could actually drive your car across. The residents of the City of Folsom and El Dorado Hills no longer had convenient crossing over the American River. Consequently, a $75 million dollar bridge was built for the 18,000 vehicle trips that had been rerouted to existing bridges downstream.
Even though access to Folsom Dam by the public was essentially removed, additional security measures were still to come. At the base of the earthen wing dams and dikes the the Bureau placed massive boulders making it virutally impossible for terrorist trucks laden with explosives to get on top of the dam. In 2005 came the solar powered retractable pop up bollards on each side of several of the dykes. Had I not seen these with my own
eyes I would have dismissed this security measure as fantasy.
Obviously, the contractor for these bollards did one heck of a sales job on the Bureau. There were 7 sets of the high-tech stainless steel solar powered retractable bollards between Cavit Junior High School and Beals Point. They were meant to be easily retracted so security vehicles could drive on top of the dykes. However, for reasons that were never disclosed, within a couple of years the very expensive security system was pulled out.
My guess is that the decomposed granite, which the dominant soil in the area, jammed the bollard from either moving up or down. I wonder if the Bureau got any sort of refund for a security project that failed. It would be great to know how much it cost the taxpayer to completely install and remove these little toys.
In place of the retractable bollards the Bureau has installed sensible swing-away gates. How much money could they have saved if they had done that in the first place? But paranoia still seems to grip the Bureau and I noticed this past weekend, May 6, 2012, they have installed security cameras on the dykes. Have they employed some one full time to watch the monitors? It is virtually impossible to to get a vehicle on top of the dykes and dams. The main traffic on the dykes along the west side of the lake is horse riders, bicylist, joggers and walkers. Not to mention the county Sherrif patrols that routinely drive by looking for suspicious activity.
As part of an initiative to strengthen the dam and add more flood protection additional work was done to the dykes and dams. This has resulted in some sort of drainage outlet at the base of the dykes. The real threat now is some terrorist packing the drainage outlets full of explosives; no need to drive on top of the dam. Wouldn’t it make more sense to place the security cameras at these 12″ galvanized pipes sticking out of the ground
than on top of the levies?
Either way, nothing is going to change. The Bureau will keep coming up with phantom threats to the dam and spending more money. It would be nice, however, if they told the public what they were doing to make us safer and how much it is costing.
In a similar territory, I was allowed to pass through TSA security at the Detroit airport with the wrong name on my boarding pass. You Tube video