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Pueblo test track to play role in homeland security

(The following appeared on the KOAA website on July 16.)

PUEBLO, Colo. — Southern Colorado is poised to play a larger role in Homeland Defense as Washington looks to make the Transportation Technology Center northeast of Pueblo a site for developing and testing anti-terrorism measure on the nation's railway system.

A Homeland Security bill recently passed by House would invest $18 million into the railroad testing facility to build a tunnel simulation track to help develop security and counter terrorism measures on subways and other underground mass transit systems.

Colorado Congressmen John Salazar and Ed Perlmutter have lobbied congress to consider the Pueblo County site because the cost savings it offers. Much of the infrastructure and organizational structure is already in place.

"Quite frankly, we've got one of the best facilities anywhere on the planet for dealing with rail
safety and rail security issues right here in Pueblo," said Perlmutter. "There's no other facility of this kind in the entire world that have the capability of actually training first responders," Salazar said.

The pair of Colorado delegates invited House Homeland Security Committee Chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, Undersecretary of Homeland Security Jay Cohen, and Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee Chair, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee to the test site Saturday to observe facility in action.

One demonstration showed how railroad employees are trained to contain a chemical spill in the event that a pressurized tanker car is damage. The reaction from Thompson and Jackson Lee was reassuring. "We're happy to be here, to see the level of capacity of what's here with this facility as well as the increased opportunity to grow that capacity," Thompson said.
"Rail security is key and it is probably one of the most vulnerable targets for terrorists in America today," said Jackson Lee.

T.T.C.I. president Roy Allen says called Saturday's tour a success, and says he is excited about the possibility of expanding their role. "This has been a great day and I think we've taken another pretty major step forward in achieving our dreams and our goals."

Monday, July 16, 2007

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