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WMATA seeks additional $100 million for security


During the past several years, transit agencies have faced many of the same concerns: growing ridership, increasingly crowded trains, expanding services and aging infrastructures. And, although safety and security always were included in the list, their prominence has increased significantly since Sept. 11. Especially in Washington, D.C.

In an effort to help meet concerns that now include possible terrorist activities, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Chief Executive Officer Richard White April 11 sent letters to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House appropriations committees and District of Columbia appropriations subcommittees, and regional congressional delegation requesting $107.5 million to fund additional security enhancements — on top of the $39.1 million provided in last year’s Department of Defense appropriation bill and $10 million allocated by the Bush Administration.

"Given the strategic role that WMATA plays in transporting the federal workforce, supporting the numerous federal buildings and facilities that are located close to Metrorail stations, and in serving citizens from the region and the entire nation that conduct business with all three branches of the federal government, I believe that it is important to consider [Metro] as a national security asset," wrote White.

The greatest portion of the funds — $50 million — would go toward constructing a back-up Operations Control Center to enable rail operations if the primary train control facility were incapacitated. Completing the project would require an additional $35 million, WMATA estimates.

Other projects to be funded include installing chemical sensors in an additional 15 underground stations. Currently, WMATA can install sensors in 13 of its 47 underground facilities. The cost to complete the project is yet to be determined.

A biological sensor pilot program would receive $1 million from these funds; a decontamination pilot program, $2 million. Both have indeterminate future costs.

Expanding bus facilities’ intrusion detection systems would be completed with $6 million as requested in White’s letter.

Three additional programs presented would have set future costs: installing additional cameras on buses would require $7 million this year and $7 million at a future date; an upgraded public-address system for rail stations would need $16.5 million this year, $15 million later; and changing access and tracking of entry to sensitive field locations from conventional keys to ID card keys would cost $5 million this year and next.

In all, WMATA requests $169.5 million, not including amounts yet to be determined.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/12/2002