Scotty Hancock, director of the Floyd County Emergency Management Agency, gave an update on the massive project last week.
The first of 10 towers that will blanket the county with public safety radio coverage is scheduled to be erected on Mount Alto by Friday.
“You’ll be able to look up and see it right there,” Hancock said with an anticipatory grin.
Police, firefighters and emergency responders currently use a number of different radio systems, all aging and all transmitting via a single tower on Mount Alto.
The 2009 special purpose, local option sales tax is funding a Harris Corp. state-of-the-art 800 megaherz digital trunking system.
Local officials, Harris engineers and county consultants with Tusa Consulting Services spent much of 2011 tailoring the system for Floyd County’s hilly terrain and securing appropriate tower locations.
On May 18 a group will go to Lynchburg, Va., where the system is being built, for a factory staging test.
“Once we sign off they’ll number the pieces, pack it up, and ship it here for Williams to install,” Hancock said.
Williams Communications won the bid to service the technology. The company, which works closely with Harris in Florida, opened an office in Rome.
Hancock said the project remains on track for completion by Jan. 1, 2013, the deadline set by the Federal Communications Commission for local governments to narrow-band their radio signals.
“They’ll be working on seven sites simultaneously to meet the aggressive schedule,” he said.
The Floyd County Commission approved last week two change-orders to the $23.6 million contract with Harris that give the county a credit of nearly $90,000.
County Manager Blaine Williams said engineers determined the height of one of the towers could be lowered without weakening coverage. County public works crews also cut a road into a remote tower site, removing that projected charge from the contract.
“We’re at the vetting stage now. We’re just going to store that savings because we might need it later,” he said. “Once we get past the uncertainty of the tower foundation (costs), we’ll have a pretty good idea about the budget.”
The new radio system will be shared by city and county first responders, various local government agencies, the hospitals and the schools. It also is interoperable — which means it can interface with other systems used by entities from outside the county.