State transportation officials believe vandalism is to blame for a cut to a fiber optic
cable in downtown Birmingham that disabled its area traffic cameras and the department’s ability to remotely control local highway message boards this week.
The Alabama Department of Transportation has 77 traffic cameras and 14 overhead message boards along highways in the Birmingham area, said Tony Harris, spokesman for the department. Views from 39 of the cameras are accessible to the public through ALDOT’s website and the remainder can only be viewed by ALDOT’s traffic management center.
Message boards are used to relay to motorists messages, including traffic delays, detours, and travel times.
Links to the cameras and message boards were cut sometime Monday morning, Harris said.
The cut was located Tuesday, just before lunch, Harris said. The exact location of the cut is not being disclosed for security reasons, he said.
Transportation officials from Birmingham and Montgomery studied the cut, Harris said. “They have concluded it appears to be the work of vandals rather than some accidental cut,” he said.
The repairs, which begin today, will cost at least $10,000, Harris said. “We hope to have all the services that are linked to that fiber optic cable restored by early next week,” he said.
ALDOT officials will file a report with local law enforcement authorities about the fiber optic cut, Harris said.
In the meantime, whatever messages already on the boards will continue, Harris said. If a message needs to be changed to relay important information to motorists, ALDOT will send someone to the board and change it manually, he said.
But there is no ability to calculate and relay travel times while the cameras and message boards are off-line, Harris said.