The question is prompting state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) to propose a law that would give the state oversight of security in Metropolitan Transit Authority infrastructure, which includes the 70-year-old subway system and the MetroNorth and Long Island Rail Road lines. "It's going to give the office of Homeland Security and state the power to go in and survey the entire system and report on what measures are lacking," Gianaris said. The inspectors will mandate ways the city can close safety gaps. "Given the disrepair of the infrastructure in general and the fact that a small fire can disrupt the system ... I think that clearly a danger is there that needs to be fixed," the assemblyman said. He was referring to the switch house fire last month in Lower Manhattan that drastically reduced service on the A line to Lefferts Boulevard and the Rockaways and knocked out the C line. Both are now back up and running at 70 percent capacity. Gianaris is modeling his bill on the Energy Security Act that he authored in 2003, which gives the state the authority to crack down on security holes at private energy facilities. Inspectors came up with simple and relatively inexpensive safety measures at the Con Edison plant in Astoria such as vehicle barriers and chain link fences on the shoreline, the assemblyman said. Gianaris, a likely candidate for state attorney general, said investigators might uncover similar low-cost remedies for the MTA, which was dealt a financial blow in January when Gov. George Pataki cut its request for core repair and improvement funding by $2.2 billion in his proposed 2005 budget address. "One of the things the (law) would take into account is the (MTA's) ability to finance them," Gianaris said. "I would expect that some very basic, relatively inexpensive security measures could be implemented without busting the budget."Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@times
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