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8/24/2012

SJTA To Begin Removing Obsolete Emergency Call Boxes

Hamilton Township, NJ - The South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) owner and operator of the Atlantic City Expressway (ACE) and the Atlantic City International Airport (ACY) today announced that obsolete call boxes installed in the mid 1980's will be removed in a 90 day project that begins Monday, August 27, 2012.

"The safety of the motoring public using our Expressway is the main factor that went into the decision to remove the call boxes," said Sam Donelson, Acting Executive Director of the SJTA. "The older technology that powers these call boxes is obsolete and may give an individual the impression that there is actually a telephone there when there is not. We will erect new signs at various locations that will be visible to motorists with a telephone number to call for assistance. In an emergency, 9-1-1 remains the number to call."

The current roadside call box unit is powered in the field by the use who pulls down a lever then pushes a button labeled "Police" or "Service" that activates an electric motor to produce a radio transmission. When activated, the call box emits a radio frequency "squawk" code, which is received as an alarm at the Dispatch Center located in the State Police building at the Farley Service Plaza. An acknowledgement code is then sent back tot he roadside call box and heard by the user as an audible "beep". It may not be understood by the end user that this "beep" is an acknowledgement of alarm receipt. There is no voice communication that takes place with the existing system.

A study conducted by the SJTA shows that call box alarms are typically accompanied by a cell phone call regarding the same incident, creating confusion and potentially redundant effort. The existence of State Police patrols on ACE, presence of ACE Emergency Service Patrol (ESP) and the prevalence of cellular phones with the traveling public have significantly diminished the value of the call boxes.

Work has already begun installing signs along the Expressway advising motorists to call 9-1-1 for emergencies and other signs advising motorists to call 609-965-7200 or # ACE (#223).

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