- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Metro has asked the federal government to fund $190 million worth of security enhancements related to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, including building two operations facilities, putting cameras on its 1,400 buses and expanding its chemical and biological weapons-detection program.
Nearly half of the request $81 million would fund the Program for Response Options and Technology Enhancements for Chemical and Biological Terrorism (PROTECT). It is a multiagency program involving Metro and the federal Justice and Energy departments that tests the effectiveness of chemical sensors in some subway stations.
Metro spokesman Ray Feldmann said the extra funds will be used to upgrade the sensors to detect biological weapons and improve the system's response operation. The money also would be used to expand PROTECT to all of Metro's underground stations, he said.
Metro is scheduled to test the current $17 million PROTECT response system by the end of the year.
"People are very focused on chemical and biological attacks, and while it may be a big-ticket item, given everyone's sensitivity to chemical and biological attacks, we just felt it was important to add this to the list," Mr. Feldmann said.
About $40 million of the request would be used to build a rail-operations control center and a Metro operations center. Currently, Metro houses both centers in its downtown headquarters.
"We would rather have redundant systems," Mr. Feldmann said, adding that no sites have been chosen for the operations centers.
Metro sent its request for the $190 million yesterday to federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. Its requests for $81 million for PROTECT also went to Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Attorney General John Ashcroft. Members of the area's congressional delegation were notified of the requests.
Other key requests include:
$20 million to add digital cameras to all 1,400 Metro buses and for a system that would transmit the video signals back to headquarters.
$2 million for overtime costs for Metro Transit Police, who are working 12-hour shifts, and for eight additional K-9 teams and vehicles to detect explosives.
$16.1 million for intrusion- and motion-detection systems along Metro's subway line, at rail yards and maintenance shops.
Any money Metro receives would come from the $40 billion package Congress and President Bush agreed upon for nationwide security measures in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. About $33 billion of the package remains available, said Chris Ullman, OMB spokesman.
The money would augment Metro's annual $1.8 billion budget, of which $189 million is from federal sources, mostly for new rail cars, buses and the proposed New York Avenue subway station on the Red Line.
Various agencies, including Metro, have made about $100 billion worth of requests for the remaining $33 billion, Mr. Ullman said.
"We work with the agencies to assess what the needs are," Mr. UIlman said. "We are making decisions on a triage basis."
Bruce Frame, a spokesman for the Federal Transit Administration, said Metro's request "would be evaluated" just like the hundreds of other transit systems around the country looking for additional funding in light of the terrorist attacks.
"There are security needs in transit systems all across the country," Mr. Frame said.
A spokeswoman for the Energy Department said Metro's request would be reviewed.
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat and the District's nonvoting congressional representative, said Metro's request should be approved in its entirety.
"That's a must-fund item. Not only because residents of the city and the region use this system, but because most of the 25 million tourists who come here every year use this system," Mrs. Norton said. "The last thing the administration wants is a problem in the subway in the nation's capital."

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide