TransLink to protect tunnels from terrorists
Three sites part of $2 million upgrade
Damian Inwood, The Province
Published: Tuesday, December 18, 2007
TransLink is launching a $2-million plan to try to make its transit tunnels terrorist-proof in the lead up to the 2010 Olympics.
"There's no doubt that the awarding of the 2010 Olympics has increased the interest in ensuring that our system is target-hardened against terrorism," TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie said yesterday. "That kind of event can draw unwanted attention to the region."
While the new Canada Line to Richmond isn't part of the plan, the 10 to 12 kilometres of tunnels on the route to Richmond will eventually use the same system.
A request for proposals has gone out for a consultant to examine the tunnels for areas of vulnerability and to do a preliminary design to help combat terrorism.
The request identifies three SkyTrain tunnels as needing protection. They are the Dunsmuir
tunnel under downtown Vancouver, between Waterfront and Burrard Stations, the Columbia cut-and-cover in New Westminster at Columbia Station, and the New Westminster tunnel, between Columbia and Sapperton stations.
It also plans to protect the West Coast Express at Waterfront Station.
TransLink plans security enhancements, which may include "smart" fencing, with an alarmed fibre-optic security system, plus barriers, gates and closed-circuit TV cameras. The systems would be monitored at the SkyTrain and West Coast Express operations and maintenance centres.
"The whole issue on security, and to consider target-hardening the system against terrorism, started after the Madrid bombings and the London Transport bombings going back to 2005," added Hardie.
The federal government gave TransLink $9.8 million as part of Ottawa's $37-million Transit Secure program.
Hardie said the tunnel program will eventually cost more than
$2 million, with $500,000 coming from TransLink and the rest from Ottawa. It will need to be mostly completed by March 2009 to qualify for federal funding, he added.
The SkyBridge over the Fraser River between Surrey and New Westminster may also be included.
Security expert John Thompson, president of the Toronto-based Mackenzie Institute, said the proposed system is not the perfect solution."It's a start," he said. "The first principle in counter-terrorism is that perfect security is impossibly expensive."