FOLLOWUP: More about the new emergency-communications tower going up in Gatewood

(WSB photo from Wednesday, new tower at left)

On Wednesday, thanks to a reader tip and photos, we reported on the new emergency-communications tower going up by Myrtle Reservoir Park, at the city’s highest elevation. Our initial inquiries left a lot of questions unanswered but we connected with the right people today and they answered those questions by putting together this news release:

The Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network (PSERN) Project is upgrading and expanding the current, aging King County Emergency Radio Communications System (KCERCS). A West Seattle radio tower, located on land owned by the City of Seattle is part of that. It’s located on an existing KCERCS site and the PSERN Project is replacing the tower as part of a critical emergency radio system upgrade.

PSERN will primarily be used by law enforcement, fire fighters, and other emergency personnel to communicate with each other during E-911 activities – from small incident responses to major emergencies like earthquakes. The PSERN system is comprised of 61 radio towers engineered to provide the best coverage available using direct, line-of-sight technology between towers to communicate with each other, in combination with other technologies. This is not a 5G cellular site; the technologies are different.

The tower will be ready to respond to emergencies after construction and testing is complete. Construction of the new PSERN tower and equipment installation will take another six to nine months to complete. The old tower will then be torn down.

The project began its work on the West Seattle tower location in late summer 2019 and has followed local jurisdiction permitting requirements, including a land use sign on site. Additionally, the project chose to pay an additional cost to paint the tower a color allowing it to better blend in with its surroundings.

Construction and materials costs for the PSERN West Seattle tower equipment are approximately $800,000, paid for out of the PSERN Project.

Other FAQs:

PSERN was approved by King County voters in April 2015.
PSERN is an 800 MHz digital network.

The system will cover all populated portions of King County, along with the three major highways in the eastern part of the county.

It is a large, complex program comprised of more than 80 subprojects. That includes the 61 radio sites based around the county in a wide variety of terrain, 19 dispatch centers, deployment of up to 19,000 radios, and other system components.

PSERN Project Partners/Owners:
Eastside Public Safety Communications Agency (EPSCA)
King County – lead agency
City of Seattle
Valley Communications Center

The system vendor is Motorola.

When the project is complete, the system and all project assets will be operated by a new municipal nonprofit corporation, the PSERN Operator.

P.S. We found documents for the project permits in city files, which shows it’s been in the works for four years. The tower is 140 feet tall.

4 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: More about the new emergency-communications tower going up in Gatewood"

  • John November 8, 2019 (10:24 am)

    Walking our dog, I chatted with a site supervisor who told me that the new tower is the same height as the old one which is just below the mandated elevation for aircraft warning lights.  Interesting to me is that the new tower is designed much larger in diameter and stiffer so as to keep the microwave transmitters from vibrating in the wind and shifting their aim.   The towers are not as high as the top of the water tanks which do have aircraft warning lights for this busy private aircraft corridor.

  • Lance November 8, 2019 (12:25 pm)

    For those of you radio scanning enthusiasts. This new Motorola digital system they’re putting in  (APCO 25 phase 2) means we’ll need to upgrade our scanners if you want to listen in . Good example of one that will work: Uniden TrunkTracker V

    • WSB November 8, 2019 (12:33 pm)

      Thanks for mentioning that; we’re not “enthusiasts” – it’s our job to have the scanner on 24/7 – and I was just starting to wonder if it means we’ll have to get something new.

  • CD November 10, 2019 (7:06 am)

    I’m for the upgrade but I wish they set it up further from the houses as opposed to closer.  This is what it looks like from my bedroom window.  Hopefully the other one will be removed. 

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