Palm Beach Fire-Rescue department officials are working with state and county agencies to expand the town’s Opticom traffic system.
“This will decrease our response time to certain emergencies on the island,” Battalion Chief Sean Baker said Wednesday. “It will make the streets safer for responding crews and the public.”
The GPS-based system pre-empts traffic lights to give priority to emergency vehicles that are responding to calls and have their lights on. Right now, eight intersections are part of the town’s system, but six more will be added in 2016.
Baker recalled riding along to the scene of a structure fire on the North End in a battalion chief vehicle equipped with an Opticom transmitter.“It was great to see all the traffic lights ahead of us lining up green,” Baker said. “It definitely made it a lot smoother for us.”
In addition to the expansion of the system to more intersections, 20 Opticom transmitters have been budgeted for police department vehicles. The fire-rescue department is working with the Florida Department of Transportation and engineers in the county’s traffic division to move the project along, Baker said.
Construction at the Flagler Memorial Bridge spurred the initial investment in the town’s Opticom system in 2013 out of concern for the construction’s impact on the speedy transportation of patients to area hospitals. Now the goal is to expand the system in order to improve the movement of emergency personnel town wide.
The cost for the expansion is about $19,000 per intersection, Baker said. The project must be awarded through a competitive bidding process that can take three or more months to complete, according to Deputy Chief Darrel Donatto. All of the department’s vehicles are already equipped with transmitters.
The intersections in the expanded system will include: Sunrise Avenue and North County Road; Royal Poinciana Way and Bradley Place; Peruvian Avenue and South County Road; Worth Avenue and South County Road; Hammon Avenue and South County Road; and Lake Avenue and South Ocean Boulevard.
Article written by Andres David Lopez published in Palm Beach Daily News