Today’s news:

Plan to surround Penn with virtual fence OK’d

Transit officials and Madison Square Garden have finally agreed Monday on a belated plan to install barriers around Penn Station to deter truck and car bomb attacks.

The work of securing the station is slated to start next year and to be finished by 2010 at a cost of $15 million.

The security will consist of a virtual fence of concrete barriers and metal posts, such as have been protecting Grand Central Terminal, courts on Foley Square and other buildings for years.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly late last month sent a letter to all parties involved in negotiations over the security at Penn Station saying "the impasse has gone on for too long."

Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials, who had designated the money for the security project three years ago, blamed Madison Square Garden officials for the delay.

Tim Hassett of Madison Square Garden said immediately after the agreement Monday that the MTA, Amtrak and Vornado RealtyTrust, owners of Penn Station area real estate were to be commended in helping reach the agreement.

'We are pleased that we will be able to move ahead with the perimeter plan for Penn Station," said MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin.

Penn Station, through which 600,000 commuters pass daily, is owned by Amtrak although trains of New Jersey Transit, the Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak all use the facility as well as the New York Transit Authority.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

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