CHP to inspect trucks at Bay area bridges

| 2/12/2003

The California Highway Patrol has set up truck inspection points near the Golden Gate and Bay bridges over the weekend as part of stepped up security in the area.

Mike Wright, public affairs officer at the CHP’s Golden Gate Division in the San Francisco Bay area, confirmed that the effort was not in response to any threat against the bridges, which connect San Francisco to other parts of the state to the north and east. Another CHP spokesman told the Bay City News the inspections were part of overall security efforts ordered by the state’s governor, Gray Davis.

“We never received anything specific,” Wright said. “This is just our response to the heightened alert coming from the federal government.”

Wright said the patrol would not identify how long the inspections would continue or when the inspection points would be active, in part so anyone intent on causing damage to the bridges would not know at what times the bridges would be free from security.

“We’re trying to use the element of surprise,” Wright said.

At this point, the effort is only targeting trucks, box trucks, vans and other commercial vehicles. But it could expand at any time if a threat is perceived.

“We constantly have roving patrols stopping any kind of vehicle that seems suspicious,” Wright said. “But as far as these static checkpoints, only commercial (vehicles will be inspected).”

The past week has seen an overall tightening of security as the Bush administration raised the nation’s level of terrorist alert to “orange,” or high risk.

Drivers were warned last week to allow additional time at several border crossings with Canada – such as Fort Erie, Niagara Falls and Windsor – because of inspections ordered recently are expected to take on a more intense nature.

--by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor