DHS Releases $380 Million for Ports, Transit, Security

DHS Releases $380 Million for Ports, Transit, Security

U.S. seaports are in line for another $150 million in federal security grants that can be used for worker identification measures and other projects, as part of $380 million in new Recovery Act grants released Sept. 23 by the Department of Homeland Security.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said the funding includes $72 million for transit agencies that can be used to beef up security in stations, high-density tunnels and for bridges. That comes at a time when security alerts have gone out this week for mass transit systems, after the arrest of suspects reportedly planning a terrorist attack.

DHS also set aside $166 million for grants to fire departments to upgrade fire stations or build new ones.

Napolitano’s department earlier released $1.34 billion in stimulus program funds for those three categories, but she said the new funds “will enhance the resiliency of our critical infrastructure and improve our emergency response capabilities.”

DHS said the $150 million in additional funding for its port security grant program is “to protect critical port infrastructure from terrorism; enhance maritime domain awareness and risk management capabilities; and support the implementation of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential -- a tamper-resistant biometric credential issued to workers who require unescorted access to secure areas of ports and vessels.”

At the American Association of Port Authorities, President and CEO Kurt Nagle said the new stimulus funds will help U.S. seaports protect their critical infrastructure, create jobs and stimulate commercial activity.

"As our lifeline to world trade and part of our nation's ‘water borders,' seaports must be secure," said Nagle. Besides giving the ports an economic boost to aid in the recovery from recession, he said "these grants help secure assets vital to our nation's long-term prosperity."

Contact John D. Boyd at jboyd@joc.com.