Fla. county considers traffic signal project to better response times
The project would cost $1.8 million and will use GPS technology
By Scott Lockwood
North Port Sun
SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — The Sarasota County Commission will discuss today a $1.8 million contract for a countywide traffic signal project that aims to enhance the response time of rescue workers.
If the contract is approved, Traffic Control Devices of Altamonte Springs will install a traffic pre-emption system that will use GPS technology that integrates with existing traffic control devices. Sarasota County Fire Chief Mike Tobias said a GPS sensor and transmitter will be mounted on 86 of the county's emergency vehicles and receivers will be mounted on the control signal cabinet of 197 different signals around the county. He said once the receiver senses an emergency vehicle about a quarter of a mile away coming in its direction, the traffic signal will cycle to a green light in the same direction as the vehicle -- and allow traffic to move through the intersection before moving out of the way for the emergency vehicle. All other vehicles traveling in other directions will see a red light.
'This is going to be a big help for us,' Tobias said. 'One of the big things it's going to do is help increase our safety factor for us -- and also for the citizens and other motorists.'
The system would appear in 24 intersections in downtown Venice and 12 in North Port, including intersections at River Road and Tamiami Trail, and intersections at Tamiami Trail and South Biscayne Drive, Pan American Boulevard, North Port Boulevard and South Sumter Boulevard. It would also be at the intersections of Price Boulevard and Toledo Blade Boulevard, and Sumter and Price.
'The major corridors are going to be part of the backbone of the system,' North Port Deputy Fire Chief Scott Titus said.
The traffic pre-emption system would appear in four intersections in Englewood, including the intersections of Indiana Avenue (State Road 776) and Dearborn Street, Virginia Court and Hosmer Avenue. The intersection at Indiana and Manasota Key Road would also utilize the system.
Titus said the city is planning on outfitting its six ambulances with the transmitters at a cost of about $3,800 per vehicle. He said ambulances usually respond with firetrucks, and would be able to gain control of the intersection in advance of a truck.
'This gets us a start on to the system so we can identify what kind of efficiencies it gives us and determine whether or not we invest more and put them on our fire vehicles,' Titus said.
If the contract is approved by commissioners, construction around the county would begin later this month. County officials estimate the project would be completed by February.
The County Commission meets at 9 a.m. today at the Robert L. Anderson Administration Center, 4000 S. Tamiami Trail, South Venice. It meets again at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Sarasota County Administration Center, 1660 Ringling Blvd.
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