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Radiation Detectors in Traffic Lights Could Thwart Dirty Bombs

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, federal inspectors have been checking travelers entering the country for radiation in case of a dirty bomb threat. There are radiation detectors at land border crossings, in seaports and in airports — and now one engineer wants to install them in traffic lights.

Colorado Springs traffic engineer John Merritt needs a federal research grant from the Department of Homeland Security to implement his plan. He wants to install the detection devices in 100 traffic signal poles. At $20,000 apiece, that's a $2 million proposal.

“I view this as a potential to improve the security of the people of the United States, but specifically the people of this community,” Merritt said.

• Click into the video tab to the right to watch a report by FOX News' Carol McKinley.

But the exorbitant cost of Merritt’s plan could hold it back, especially since the detection product is only a year old and may or may not be effective.

“Functionally, how would it work? Would it really help us?” said Bret Waters, director of the Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management.

The city may be the first municipality to use the equipment and will soon test four of the devices. If they work, Merritt may be asking Homeland Security to come up with the cash to pay for them.

Click into the video tab near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Carol McKinley.