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Feds give N.Y., N.J. $27M for port, railway security

(The Associated Press circulated the following article on January 9.)

WASHINGTON -- The federal government will distribute $445 million to U.S. cities to help protect ports, subways, rails and other infrastructure from possible terrorist attacks.

"We're investing resources where risk is greatest and where the funds will have the most significant impact," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in announcing the grants Tuesday. "This year's grants reflect a rigorous, disciplined approach that places risk first, driven by hard analysis from the intelligence community and supported by common sense."

Chertoff said the grants were expected to be awarded in the spring, but that recipients will have to submit very thorough plans that spell out how they plan to use the money to reduce their risk of a terror attack.

Nearly half the grant money, $201 million, would be used to secure ports and subway systems, including Amtrak. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would get the biggest share of those funds, $27.2 million.

The New Orleans region, devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, will get $17.3 million, followed by $15.7 million for the Houston area. DHS set aside $172 million to protect the nation's transit systems, with New York City and northern New Jersey getting the largest cut of $61 million. This year, money for rail and bus systems are combined, so recipients can decide which system needs more attention, Chertoff said.

Washington, D.C. and the Baltimore area will get $18.5 million, the Boston area $15.3 million, followed by the San Francisco Bay area at $13.8 million. Amtrak will get $8.3 million.

Transit funding this year includes 19 ferry systems in 14 regions in California, Connecticut, southern New Jersey and Delaware, northern New Jersey and New York City, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington state.

Intercity bus systems and trucking safety will each get $11.6 million. And DHS set aside $48.5 million for "buffer zone protection" which would provide security around critical facilities such as chemical plants.

The DHS funding figures came as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg testified before a Senate hearing considering further legislation to enact recommendations of the 9/11 commission.

Bloomberg told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that the city was long overdue to get its fair share of anti-terrorism grants. He compared the current system to spreading dollars "across the country like peanut butter."

"For the sake of New York City and the security of our nation, I hope you will stop writing politically derived formulas into homeland security bills," Bloomberg told the senators.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

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