Updated: 05-01-2004 11:18:09 AM

New York State Awards Emergency-Radio Bid

Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- The administration of Gov. George Pataki on Friday chose a firm to create an emergency radio network for police, fire and medical authorities statewide, calling it critical for homeland security.

The statewide wireless network will replace outdated systems with a digital radio network. The system will require a yet-to-be determined number of towers to be built in the state's Adirondack and Catskill parks, said Office of Technology spokesman Rob Roddy.

The bid by M/A-COM is for a contract estimated to be worth more than $1 billion. Roddy and a Pataki spokeswoman did not disclose the price, saying it is part of continuing negotiations.

Communications breakdowns among rescue personnel during the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center have been blamed for slowing the evacuation of office workers and rescuers; most complaints have centered around poorly designed equipment or spotty reception in the twin towers.

The new emergency radio network system would allow local authorities to join, if they decided to do so, state officials said.

The state and the firm will now negotiate a 20-year contract by November. The project is expected to be complete in five years and will be paid for through an existing state surcharge, according to the late Friday afternoon announcement. State officials would not elaborate on the funding source.

The award to M/A-COM, part of Tyco International companies, was immediately criticized.

Motorola, the only other bidder, told the Albany Times Union in Friday editions the state set unrealistic and expensive specifications, and that M/A-COM submitted an unrealistically low bid. Roddy disputes the claim, saying ``The M/A-COM proposal was found to be the most technically, environmentally and financially superior.''

The Adirondack Council, an environmental group, said the project will require the cutting of hundreds or thousands of trees in protected wilderness, and would place generators and fuel tanks on mountain tops frequently struck by lightning.

John Sheen of the council said the group would file a lawsuit. ``There's no end of difficulty with this,'' he said.