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Railroads to upgrade security at terminals

(Newsday posted the following article by Jennifer Maloney on its website on September 21.)

NEW YORK -- The Long Island and Metro-North railroads have approved a joint contract for improving Grand Central Terminal's chemical detection system and installing one in the LIRR section of Penn Station, LIRR officials said.

The $4-million contract will allow the MTA to expand a chemical-detection technology that it has been testing at Grand Central for two years, said Lewis Schiliro, director of interagency preparedness for the MTA.

The system is "designed to detect chemicals that at least historically have been used by terrorist organizations," Schiliro said yesterday. With sensors in public spaces that can immediately set off an alarm, the chemical detection technology works in combination with a surveillance system that allows security officials to see whether people in the station are experiencing symptoms of chemical exposure, he said.

Schiliro declined to give more details, citing security concerns.

The MTA is considering expanding the system to other transportation hubs, including Jamaica Station, Schiliro said.

The authority already has a radiological detection system at Grand Central and Penn and is currently testing biological detection technology at Grand Central, he said.

The biological technology "is going to be a little more complicated," Schiliro said. "We're working on it very diligently."

LIRR officials also announced yesterday a $575,000 contract to erect high-security fencing at 16 locations in Queens, Nassau and Suffolk with high rates of trespasser accidents.

The new fencing - part of a $4.5-million capital improvement project - is more secure than regular fencing because it is more difficult to cut, said Tom DeMaria, LIRR's executive director of capital program management.

The fencing has been installed in about half of the 16 locations. Installation should be complete by next month, he said.

Friday, September 22, 2006

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