WASHINGTON – Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman and Representative Rosa DeLauro Thursday announced that New Haven would share in a $37.5 million transit security grant awarded to four cities in the tri-state area.
The Department of Homeland Security adopted a regional approach, as recommended by the Connecticut delegation in January, in awarding the grant. Last year, DHS awarded New York a large grant to secure Metro North. The city was under no obligation to share the money with Connecticut, even though New Haven is a terminus for the commuter line and carries 5.5 million riders a month.
The grant money will be divided among New Haven, New York City, Newark, N.J., and Jersey City, N.J. Transit officials from each city will be required to form a working group to allocate the funds, and the governor of each state must agree to the final plan. The working group also will develop a regional strategy to safeguard the area’s transit systems.
“It’s vitally important that we put the safety of Connecticut commuters on the right track,” said Dodd. “In many ways, the impact of a terrorist attack on a mass transit system strikes at the very essence of the freedoms which all of us hold dear. Inherent in the idea of public transportation are notions of openness, accessibility, safety, mobility, and opportunity. We must do more to protect commuters, and I intend to continue to fight to make our transit and transportation infrastructure as secure as possible.”
“This is welcome news for New Haven and anyone in Connecticut who commutes along the Metro North rail line,” Lieberman said. “The Department of Homeland Security has wisely adopted a regional approach along this heavily-used commuter line, an approach I have advocated as the most logical way to protect rail passengers from possible terrorist attack. This grant guarantees that New Haven will have a place at the table.”
“The announcement that DHS will consider a regional approach to rail security is good news for the more than 125,000 daily commuters on the New Haven Line,” DeLauro said. “Our train yards, tracks and stations are among our most vulnerable transportation infrastructure, and it is vitally important that the federal government continue to improve our region’s rail transit security.”
In January, Dodd, Lieberman, the five-member House delegation, and Gov. Jodi Rell wrote to then-Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge recommending that the Department consider transit systems as a whole, rather than focusing on individual cities or states, in its grant making.
“We urge you to take a more explicitly regional approach to transit funding in these awards than was done in FY2004,” the letter said. “Last year, in cases in which a transit system extended into more than one state, the state in which the relevant transit agency was headquartered was the sole designated grant recipient. In the case of Metro-North, this meant that New York State was the grant recipient, although the Metro-North system operates in both New York and Connecticut. Although the grantee state was required to pass through 80% of the money to the relevant transit agency, there was no requirement that that state or the transit agency allocate any of the grant funds to protect those portions of the transit system that are located in any other state. We believe that the better and more equitable approach where there is a multistate transit system is to take steps to ensure the entire system is protected.” The letter is available at: http://hsgac.senate.gov/_files/ACF93C.pdf