Feds to give NY's MTA extra $22M for bridge security

Security of suspension bridges is a concern


--

May 17--WASHINGTON -- The MTA will get an additional $22 million in federal money to help finish securing its suspension bridges after state officials coaxed the U.S. Homeland Security Department into increasing its 2008 federal transit security grant to New York, Gov. David A. Paterson said Friday.

That new money, which expands a $153.3 million federal grant to New York announced in January to a total $175.4 million, will be the first transit security grant dedicated specifically to bridges, said Michael Balboni, New York's deputy secretary for public safety.

Overall, New York State won $245 million from four federal homeland security grant programs, a 54-percent jump from last year, Paterson's office said. Six grants totaling $818,000 were awarded to Long Island.

Balboni praised homeland security officials for understanding that grants must be awarded based on risk, and that New York's bridges have faced threats in the past.

"The $22 million represents two months of shuttle diplomacy," said Balboni. "We made a compelling case ... that the MTA needed more resources this year to improve security."

The new funds will go to the MTA to finish work on the Throgs Neck Bridge, and to harden and secure the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge and the Triborough Bridge, Balboni said.

Work already has been completed on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, he said.

Meanwhile, new port security grants were awarded to improve security at KeySpan Generation plants in Island Park ($50,985), Northport ($308,485) and Port Jefferson ($220,420).

A $47,500 grant went to enhance security at Commander Terminals in Oyster Bay.

Nassau County police won a $24,999 grant and Suffolk County police a $166,181 grant.

Suffolk police will use the money to buy equipment and infrastructure for shoreline protection, and to purchase 55 portable interoperable radios to improve communication among state, local and federal law enforcement officials, said Suffolk spokesman Dan Aug.

The New York-New Jersey port will get $45.5 million.

At Union Station here, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced more than $844 million nationally in funding under his agency's infrastructure protection grant program.