Commissioners moved ahead to phase two of the Emergency Vehicle Traffic Preemption System in town and also approved a contract to have a new facility designed for Utilities Maintenance and Solid Waste.
Commissioners approved two projects last week that are sure to have a large impact on residents.
The first phase of a two-year plan to install a secure GPS, radio-enabled Emergency Vehicle Traffic Preemption System at key I-4 intersections was completed in September and the results of the impact of the system have encouraged commissioners to purchase the second and final phase of equipment.
Essentially the Glance Preemption System lets first responders safely cruise through intersections by altering the operation of the traffic lights when they are responding to emergency calls. The cameras that were installed in September have “reduced response times by two minutes, 90 percent of the time,” according to the city report.
“Every minute we trim off the response goes a long way toward saving lives,” City Manager Bill McDaniel said. “I think the data that we already have coming in from this first phase proves that this is a successful program.”
The report also showed that before the GPS systems were installed, emergency vehicles were traveling through intersections at approximately eight miles per hour. Once the Glance Preemption System was installed, the average speed increased to 27 miles per hour. It also showed that citizens’ traffic flow since September “has improved because when an emergency vehicle moves through traffic, preemption allows for an orderly return to normal traffic patterns because side streets are brought safely to a stop in their normal lanes of traffic.”
“When you think about how it works, before we had these systems in place everyone responds to the siren as they hear it,” McDaniel said. “You’ve seen it, I’ve seen it, it’s almost like a panic reaction. This system, by getting control of the signals in the intersection, it allows drivers to not have that sudden, ‘Oh what do I do’ moment. They can simply respond to the light and then the emergency vehicles safely weave their way through the intersection without having to wait and deal with the panicked responses from drivers.”
Traffic Operations, along with Plant City Fire Rescue, proposed the following intersections be outfitted with preemption:
1. Alexander-Walden Woods
2. Alexander-Jim Johnson
3. James L. Redman-Lowes
4. James L. Redman-Charlie Griffin
13. Park Road-Alsobrook
14. Park Road-South Frontage
15. Park Road-Interstate 4
Commissioners authorized the purchase of the Glance Preemption and Priority System from Temple Inc. for $76,170.00 via a Florida Department of Transportation contract. The project is anticipated to take 30 to 45 days to be completed.
City commissioners also authorized McDaniel to enter into a work order with The Lunz Group to design a new facility for Utilities Maintenance and Solid Waste. The current building is approximately 30 years old and the city said it’s time to replace it.
In April, The Lunz Group did an assessment of the facility to determine if there were any minimum improvements or renovations that could be done to the existing building to meet the needs of the department or if it would be better to demolish it and start fresh. On Aug. 24, staff reported its findings with commissioners and recommended the city go ahead and demolish the building to build a new 12,000 square-foot facility in its place. The city will execute a Consultant Work Order with Lunz for $227,800, which will have the complete design and construction documents of the new building.
It’s estimated the complete permit drawings and the construction documents will be completed within six months and Lunz will then remain under contract through the bid and construction phase.
“This more than 30-year-old metal building has just deteriorated in so many ways,” McDaniel said. “There’s ADA and code issues due to its age and just a variety of issues that need to be addressed. The building itself has already been refurbished multiple times over the years as the city has attempted to extend its life. I think it’s been refurbished as far as it can go. Plus with their services growing, they really need more space to work, something no amount of refurbishing will solve in the current facility.”
McDaniel said that the plan is to build something a little larger than is currently needed so that as the city grows the Utilities Maintenance and Solid Waste departments won’t outgrow the space any time soon. It also will address issues like improving the parking and flow of work trucks that come and go to the facility. Things are just getting rolling, but McDaniel said all told he expects this to be a two-year process.