RadioOnFire.com – The toll plaza at the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel is closed Tuesday and toll booths will be automated while state and city health officials asses a Legionnaires’ disease scare.
Two Maryland Transportation Authority employees were diagnosed with legionellosis. While both of them have been treated, health officials are at the toll plaza to determine where the bacterial pneumonia may have been present, MDTA officials said.
“While there’s no confirmation that the building is the source of the illness, we believe the safety of our employees and visitors to the administration building dictates that we close the facility while tests are conducted,” Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn said in a statement.
E-ZPass lanes will operate as usual, but cash payment lanes will operate as video toll lanes. Drivers who normally pay with cash should keep moving, and they will be billed at the cash toll rate.
Employees who would normally work at the toll plaza were granted administrative leave.
“The safety of our employees is always the paramount concern for us, whether it’s at construction work zones or at the office,” said Jim Ports, MDTA’s executive director.
Legionella can grow and spread in man-made water systems. People who are 50 or older, are current or former smokers or who have underlying illnesses or weak immune systems are at increased risk. Symptoms are similar to other types of pneumonia. They can include coughing and shortness of breath, but also other symptoms like diarrhea, nausea and confusion. Symptoms usually begin two to 10 days after exposure.