New York restores cell phone signal to city tunnels

| 7/12/2005

No, it’s not just bad reception – authorities with Manhattan’s four vehicle tunnels blocked cell phone signals in the structures following the London bombings last week.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Port Authority in New York blocked all incoming and outgoing cell phone usage in the Holland, Lincoln, Midtown and Battery tunnels shortly after the blasts occurred on Thursday, July 7, according to media reports.

Mercedes Padilla, a spokesperson for the MTA – the authority responsible for the Battery and Midtown tunnels – said the cell coverage was reinstated on Monday, July 11, at 3 p.m. Eastern Time, but declined to comment on the reason for the shutdown.

Investigators originally believed the London blasts could have been remotely detonated from cell phones; however, Britain’s Sky News has now reported that all four of the bombers were killed in the blasts.

Residents of New York gave varying opinions on not being able to use their phones in the tunnels.

“If this betters the system in order to stop terrorist attacks, then I don’t mind it,” Newark resident Deuce Martinez told the New York Daily News.

Another driver, Paola Sellan of Manhattan, told the Daily News that cutting off the signal eliminated a lifeline for the public in case of an attack.

“If terrorists are going to blow up a tunnel, they don’t need a cell phone,” Sellan said.

In related news, the FCC released a report this week, saying the number of cell phone lines had surpassed the number of landline phones in the United States.

– By Aaron Ladage, staff writer