Connecticut Needs and Deserves Port Transit Security Funding

WASHINGTON – The Connecticut Congressional delegation has joined forces with Governor Jodi Rell to seek adequate funding to secure the state’s ports and transit systems and to urge the Department of Homeland Security to take a more regional approach in awarding federal transit security grants.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, the state’s two Senators, five Representatives, and the Governor asked that Connecticut’s “strategic regional position” be carefully evaluated as federal money is awarded in the future. For example, Connecticut is the transportation gateway to all of New England and over 100,000 people commute to New York each day on Connecticut rails. In addition, New Haven’s harbor is the home of the Regional Strategic Petroleum Reserve storage terminal, the second largest heating oil reserve in the Northeast.

The letter follows news that Connecticut will receive less money in 2005 than it received in 2004 under a general homeland security grant program, which has been reduced nationwide. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security has announced that a grant awarded to New Haven in 2004 under a high risk urban area program will not be renewed for 2005.

These cuts “make Connecticut’s need for funding under the Port Security Grants Program and the Transit Security Grants Program all the more urgent,” the letter said. “Inadequate funding under these programs could jeopardize the state’s security enhancements at the Port of New Haven as well as its other ports and would further threaten Connecticut’s ability to address security needs at critical transportation infrastructure facilities.”

“In the case of Connecticut, the state’s role as a regional, commercial and cultural leader comes with significant responsibilities for security and protection. We urge your careful consideration of Connecticut’s significant responsibilities and potential vulnerabilities” as grants are awarded in the future.