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Transit, ports get security grants

(The following article by Jennifer Lin was posted on the Philadelphia Inquirer website on September 28.)

PHILADELPHIA -- Ports along the Delaware River and mass-transit operators in Philadelphia and South Jersey have received more than $19 million in federal grants for improving security, the Homeland Security office said Tuesday.

The money is part of a $400 million package of grants for upgrading the security of the nation's critical infrastructure, including ports and mass transit.

The Delaware River port community will receive a combined $10.1 million - a slight increase over last year.

Of that, the New Jersey ports of Camden and Paulsboro will share $5 million in grants for supporting a regional effort known as Harbor Watch.

Jay Jones, deputy executive director of the South Jersey Port Corp. in Camden, said the state and local initiative was aimed at improving surveillance along the Delaware River.

Jones said the federal grant would pay for video cameras along the river to give real-time updates to port operators and the Coast Guard on the movement of vessels.

'Real-time information'

"If an emergency happens, we'll be able to instantaneously see what's happening through video cameras," Jones said. "We'll have real-time information, which will improve our overall responsiveness."

On the Pennsylvania side of the river, the Delaware River Port Authority has received $5 million to upgrade security at its Commodore Barry Bridge.

Lt. Bill McKinstry of the Coast Guard station in Philadelphia said the infrastructure improvements to the bridge would "strengthen its security posture." He would not elaborate.

The Homeland Security Department also has given grants for upgrading security to Kinder Morgan Liquids, $71,000; Penn Terminals, $19,500; and Greenwich Terminals, $8,875.

'The rail side'

SEPTA has received $1.4 million to pay for video cameras in buses, said Jim Jordan, head of security for the regional transportation agency.

Jordan also said commuter-rail operators in the region - including SEPTA, Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and the Port Authority Transit Corp. - would jointly direct the spending of $8 million in federal grants for security.

Jordan said the transit operators, working with state emergency planners and transportation departments in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, had formed a working group for addressing security concerns.

"Our recommendation is this year emphasizing security cameras on the rail side," Jordan said.

Federal spending on transit security for the region is about the same as last year, he added.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

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