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INDIANA COUNTY: Change order OK'd for new radio system

by on April 10, 2014 11:00 AM

The Indiana County commissioners Wednesday approved a change order to the county’s new public safety radio project that may move the $17 million upgrade toward completion by mid-May.

Commission Chairman Rodney Ruddock said a “hiccup” delaying completion of the project has been a lack of agreements allowing installation of a fiber-optic line along Old Route 119 near Coral, Graceton and Josephine.

The change order authorizes the payment of an additional $102,000 to Penelec so the fiber-optic can be attached to utility poles owned by Penelec.

Ruddock said the county will challenge some of the additional installation costs, perhaps with guidance from the Federal Communications Commission.

Ruddock also said it made more sense for the county to pay the additional installation costs and get the project finished than to pay a significant and continuing service contract fee to Motorola as long as the project is incomplete.

Mel Benamati, president of the Indiana County Fire Chiefs Association, speaking on behalf of the county’s fire departments, thanked the commissioners for their efforts to upgrade the radio network to be used by firefighters, police, ambulance crews and other emergency responders and county department staffers.

The commissioners approved the creation of a Traffic Incident Management team for the county to improve the safety of emergency responders at vehicle crashes and other incidents that impact traffic flows.

Commissioner Mike Baker said traffic incidents are the leading cause of death for emergency responders and are a cause of unexpected congestion. Americans burn 2.8 billion gallons of gasoline annually while stuck in incident-related traffic congestion, and for every minute that a traffic crash continues to be a road hazard, the risk of a secondary crash increases by almost 3 percent, Baker said.

The primary goals of the county’s TIM team will be to improve the safety of first responders, clear roads as quickly as possible and reduce the potential for secondary crashes.

The TIM team’s first meeting will be at 7 p.m. today at the Armagh & East Wheatfield Township Volunteer Fire Company.

The commissioners also approved the selection of Smith Group JJR, of Ann Arbor, Mich., to lead a joint community/university planning effort that will be known as the Indiana Community University District Project.

Jeff Raykes, senior planner in the Indiana County Office of Planning and Development, said Smith Group JJR is a recognized leader in “campus-edge” planning.

The planning effort, which has been in development stages for a few years, will bring together representatives from Indiana Borough, White Township, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Indiana County. Specific focus areas will include housing, transportation, open space, economic development and amenities around the IUP campus.

The $47,400 contract for professional planning services will be paid for by grants and in-kind and cash contributions from the project partners.

The commissioners approved three requests from municipalities that some of the county’s liquid fuels funds be used to help pay for road projects.

Approved were:

• $26,233 (75 percent of the total project cost) to Montgomery Township for repairs on Cush Creek Road.

• $33,767 (52 percent of the total project cost) to Brush Valley Township for paving work on Longs Road.

• $7,382 (92 percent of the total project cost) to Saltsburg Borough for drainage repairs and materials purchases.

“There’s a lot of work that will get done this summer” on area roads through liquid fuels funds, including a new source of liquid fuels money provided by Act 89, the state’s new transportation plan, Ruddock said.

In other action the commissioners:

• Approved a $180,000 grant application to the state for engineering and design of a bicycle-pedestrian bridge that will take the Hoodlebug Trail over the Routes 22-119 intersection in Burrell Township.

• Added Family Promise of Indiana County as the newest partner of Project Share, coordinated by the county’s Department of Human Services.

• Gave approval for state Department of Environmental Protection vehicles to cross the county-owned Ghost Town Trail to remediate a hazardous abandoned coal mine shaft near Railroad Street, Homer City.

• Approved a proclamation recognizing the importance of the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail as an environmental and recreational asset in the county. The Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail has more than 80 miles of fishing, canoeing and kayaking water, including 50 miles in Indiana County.



Randy Wells has been a reporter and staff writer at The Indiana Gazette since 1988. His regular assignments include coverage of the Indiana County commissioners, Indiana Borough council and the Marion Center Area School District. His email address is rwells@indianagazette.net.
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