Home Latest Stories New Surveillance Cameras Installed on Five Shore Bridges

New Surveillance Cameras Installed on Five Shore Bridges

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Cape May County Bridge Commission officials look at video images livestreamed from the bridge cameras.

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI

New video surveillance cameras costing about $170,000 have been installed on the five toll bridges serving the shore communities along the scenic Ocean Drive from Ocean City to Cape May.

The Cape May County Bridge Commission, the agency that operates the spans, said the cameras will help to improve public safety while also boosting security on the bridges.

“It’s for our protection and for all of the public’s protection,” said Maryanne Murphy, one of the bridge commission’s three board members.

The bridges include the Ocean City-Longport Bridge, the Corsons Inlet Bridge between Ocean City and Strathmere, the Townsends Inlet Bridge between Sea Isle City and Avalon, the Grassy Sound Bridge in Middle Township between North Wildwood and Stone Harbor and the Middle Thorofare Bridge between Wildwood Crest and Cape May.

The cameras were installed earlier on the Corsons Inlet, Townsends Inlet, Grassy Sound and Middle Thorofare bridges. Camera installation was scheduled Friday for the Ocean City-Longport Bridge and the fishing pier that runs alongside it.

The toll bridges, linked by the coast-hugging Ocean Drive, are a popular route for local residents year-round as well as the tourists who vacation at the shore during the busy summer season.

Altogether, the five bridges handled nearly 2.1 million vehicles in 2023 and collected a total of $4.9 million in toll revenue.

The new cameras are mounted on gantries above the toll plazas and will keep an electronic eye on bridge traffic heading both northbound and southbound. Cameras will also be mounted on the bridge piers to allow the bridge commission to watch the boat traffic passing under the spans.

The Ocean City-Longport Bridge is one of five toll bridges operated by the Cape May County Bridge Commission.

Only the modern Ocean City-Longport Bridge will not have cameras mounted on the piers. It is not an old-fashioned drawbridge like the four other bridges and does not need to be raised to allow boat traffic to pass underneath.

Video from the cameras is livestreamed from a cloud-based server. The bridge commission showed off the clear, color images from the high-resolution cameras during its monthly board meeting Thursday.

“It gives us enough of what we need to see,” said Antonio Colon, the bridge commission’s project manager.

There are both public safety and security capabilities with the cameras. For instance, the bridge commission members noted that the images may help with public safety if there are accidents on the bridges.

“It’s safety for the public. We’ve had issues with the people who don’t pay attention. We’ll make sure nobody gets hurt,” Colon said. “If something does happen, we can document it and see.”

Surveillance video from the bridges could be shared with law enforcement to track down stolen cars or to assist police during Amber Alerts involving missing children, bridge commission officials said.

The cameras have the ability to read license plates. They will not, however, be used to catch motorists who violate the E-ZPass toll collection system on the five bridges. Colon said the E-ZPass system is separate and has its own cameras for toll violators.

The new cameras will also provide a higher level of protection for the toll collectors who staff the bridges around the clock all year long, the commission members pointed out.

Traffic passes through the toll plaza at the Ocean City-Longport Bridge.

Murphy explained that the bridge commission will also be able to use the cameras to enforce the weight restrictions for delivery trucks and other large vehicles crossing over the Corsons Inlet, Townsends Inlet, Grassy Sound and Middle Thorofare bridges, all of which were built in the 1930s or 1940s.

“Maybe if they know we have cameras on them, they won’t do it,” Murphy said of the truck drivers who violate the weight restrictions.

She also said that the cameras for the Townsends Inlet Bridge may help to deter the graffiti artists who have been spray-painting their initials and other inscriptions on the massive support piers that hover over the beach on the Sea Isle City side.

“We can see things,” Murphy said in a warning to the graffiti artists.