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MTA's Electronic Security System Delayed 3 More Years by Sandy, Report Says

 The South Ferry subway station was underwater Oct. 30, 2012 after Hurricane Sandy.
The South Ferry subway station was underwater Oct. 30, 2012 after Hurricane Sandy.
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DNAinfo/Trevor Kapp

NEW YORK CITY — The MTA's post-9/11 security program is nine years overdue and $28 million over budget because of damage sustained to the system during Hurricane Sandy, according to a state comptroller's report.

The original construction contract for electronic security upgrades, which had already increased in cost from $591 million to $883 million before Sandy, was supposed to be completed by August 2008 and now is expected to be finished by November 2017, according to the report.

“Superstorm Sandy dealt the MTA’s security plans a serious setback,” New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement. “The sharp reduction in federal funds for transit security over the past four years has shifted more of the burden of securing the nation’s largest transit system to the MTA’s own resources.”

A state comptroller progress report done in April 2012 estimated the work would be completed by June 2014, but Hurricane Sandy hit that fall, adding three more years of repairs and construction.

Sandy also damaged already-existing electronic security, the report found.

“More than 50 cameras, 72 access-control devices and 5 miles of fiber-optic cable and power supply panels were damaged, at an estimated cost of $23 million,” according to the report. 

The agency plans to install more than 3,000 cameras and 1,400 access control devices in stations and tunnels, which are linked to a central command center, the state comptroller’s office said. The subway system already has more than 4,000 cameras as part of a security system developed with the NYPD, according to the agency. 

The second and third phases of the security program — an additional 24 projects including improving lighting, ventilation and communications equipment — are estimated to cost $435 million.
Only six of those projects have been completed so far and 10 are in construction, the report said.

The MTA completed designs for five additional programs, but has since lost federal funding for the projects causing the agency to have to allocate $120 million from its own budget to finish the projects, the report added.

However, the MTA contends that even with delays and a decrease in federal funding they have been able to improve security.

"The MTA network is much safer and more secure than it was before 9/11, as the Comptroller’s Office report notes," the agency said in a statement. "The Comptroller’s Office report also highlights how the scope of the MTA’s efforts to harden, protect and improve security for 8.5 million daily transit customers has expanded, even as federal funding has fallen."

"Complex site conditions, hardware and software requirements have delayed some ongoing Transit Security Grant Program projects, as did the need to temporarily redirect resources to restore service after Superstorm Sandy," the MTA said.