Is Lincoln Tunnel being tested?

February 4, 2009 6:12:39 PM PST
It probably ranks as one of New York's worst traffic jams. During last Friday evening's rush hour, the discovery of two suspicious bottles filled with an unknown liquid and glued to the median forced Port Authority police to close down the Lincoln Tunnel for hours.

Police records we've obtained show it was the third such incident in a month. The first one occurring four weeks ago, when someone placed "3 plastic heart shaped bottles" of an unknown liquid on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel. One bottle had a ''gray wire inside" and a message, "don't look at me." And then again last Wednesday, two "red sealed bottles were glued" near a lamp post.

"I would say they're studying what's going on at the tunnel," said Paul Nunziato of the Port Authority P.B.A. "Because they've been able to do it, 7 bottles placed on one of the busiest roadways in the world and no one sees them no one caught an eye on them, including the cameras."

It's clear that someone or some group is behind all three incidents, the question -- is it a prank or a test? If it's a test, one security expert says the Port Authority fails.

"The next question they need to ask is this, what are we doing wrong? Have we cut back on our security procedures? have we changed something that is easily detectable by an outside person?" explained Nicholas Casale, former deputy security director of MTA.

What's changed, according to the union, is a cut-back in patrols at the Lincoln and Holland tunnels. Sources say the cut back is as much as 40-precent. Port Authority documents show that on at least 3 days in the past month, there were "no police vehicles available for mobile patrols" on the overnight shift at the tunnel.

"The terrorist threat still exists. The perpetrator, bin Laden, is still out there, so it's not a time now to relax," Casale said.

While the police cutbacks continue, the Port Authority continues to try to figure out who's behind the suspicious bottles and the paralyzing traffic jams.

A spokesman for the Port Authority refused to comment on the police cutbacks and on the suspicious incidents would only say "they are under investigation."

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