Door costs state $16,000

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- In another attempt to tighten security at government buildings, the state has bought a $16,000 electronic door designed to control the flow of people into the Capitol.

The door, which is expected to be fully operational today, allows only one person to pass through it at a time. It connects a state Senate parking garage from the Capitol.

When a pass code is entered, the steel door opens into a narrow glassed chamber. Once inside the chamber, a sensor triggers the door to swing back, allowing a person to enter the building but closing off the way they entered.

The South African-designed door has been used in banks in that country. The Missouri model is the first of its kind to be installed in the country, said Fred Johnson, president of Entry solutions, which distributes the door in the United States.

Dave Mosby, the Capitol complex operations manager, said the current punch key entrance that cost $5,600 to install after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was costly to maintain and ineffective.

Mosby said the current system, which requires a state employee to enter a special code to pass through a doorway, was being abused because one person would often open the door then allow several others to enter.

"The security issue is that once the old door was open, somebody could let other people in who may not have been supposed to be here," Mosby said. "In the security world it's called tailgating."

The door is manufactured by Transaction Control Technologies of South Africa and distributed in the United States by a Connecticut company.

Some bewildered

Many staffers who made their way through the area on Tuesday appeared bewildered at the new door. Some merely stared while others asked questions.

Jeanette Dulle, a secretary for Sen. John Loudon, R-Ballwin, at first was skeptical but felt better about things after Johnson explained to her the door's purpose.

"I think if it protects the Capitol building and the workers, I think it's a wonderful thing," Dulle said. "I'd rather have that hassle than being fearful of what could possibly happen."

Dulle, whose husband has installed some of the garage doors for the Capitol complex, said expense wasn't an issue for her.

"My life is worth a lot more than $16,000," Dulle said.

Mosby said it remains unclear how successful the door will be, especially during the morning and afternoon rush at the Capitol.

State officials will monitor the situation before deciding whether a similar door should be installed in a hallway from a parking garage on the House side of the Capitol.

"We have some concerns about how we're going to handle and how big the backlog is going to be," Mosby said.

A possible solution is unlocking the door and posting a guard during heavy traffic times.

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