The Washburn Tunnel will be closed from midnight Friday to 4:00 a.m. Monday this weekend and next.
Gail Miller with Harris County Precinct 2 says crews have been laying fiber optic cable in preparation for 17 new security cameras in the state’s only underwater tunnel.
“When we have an accident or a stall, we’ll get a quicker read up in our control booth which will allow us to respond immediately into the tunnel.”
Miller says the goal of the new system is to keep traffic moving if there’s an accident or breakdown. Security officers will be able to zoom in on a slow moving vehicle so they can figure out exactly what’s going on.
“Our cameras that we have now, they work fine but they’re a little older and they’re not as clear as we’d like them to be. There are some areas they don’t reach as well as we’d like. “
The new cameras will also allow officers to identify license plate numbers. They’re hoping to prevent crashes like the one that happened two years ago. That’s when an oversized truck caused significant damage to the tunnel’s north entrance.
“One of the things we did over the last year was to put in some height restrictor barriers on each side of the tunnel because we had trucks that were oversized continuing to try and go through the tunnel. But occasionally, we still have one that tries to get in and they leave the scene.”
The Washburn Tunnel opened back in 1950 and it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
While the tunnel is closed, the Lynchburg Ferry will extend its hours from 4:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.. Drivers who need to get across the Ship Channel can also use the 610 East Loop, the Sam Houston Parkway North, or the Fred Hartman Bridge on State Highway 146.