Jun 20 2008

Shelby asks $1.5M for Redstone security

Huntsville Times

By Shelby G. Spires

Recent fatal wreck spurs his addition to spending bill

A desire for better security at Redstone Arsenal gates prompted Alabama's senior U.S. senator to add $1.5 million to a 2009 federal spending bill for construction projects.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, put the money for Redstone gate improvements in a bill approved by the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee.

The money comes after a May 30 police chase of two drug suspects that ended in a wreck on Redstone that killed Darren Spurlock, a Marshall Space Flight Center employee, and injured five others.

"In light of the recent tragic car accident at Redstone, it is clear that these added security measures are necessary," Shelby said in a statement Thursday. "Moreover, a great deal of important, classified and often dangerous work is conducted at Redstone. The Arsenal must have needed security in place to protect both those working on the post and the general public."

Redstone Army leaders said about $2 million in security improvements already are planned to Gates 1, 8 and 10 over the next year. That work will bring those gates up to the standards of the major entryway to Redstone, Gate 9 at Rideout Road.

Shelby's proposed increase would be in addition to those projects, a Redstone Arsenal spokeswoman confirmed.

The fatal chase caused a public outcry about the value of high-speed pursuits and the agreement that allows local police to pursue onto the federal installation.

The spending bill also pays for about $6 billion in mostly NASA programs, the main federal agency under the committee's budget authority. Included is $2.98 billion for the space shuttle program, $1.37 billion for Ares rocket development at Marshall and $26.4 million for a Marshall-managed lunar robotics exploration program.

The spending bill still must win approval of Congress and be signed by the president. The federal fiscal year begins Oct. 1.