FOLLOWUP: Why the old Gatewood emergency-communications tower is still up next to the new one

(WSB photo)

Last November, we reported on the new communications tower that was going up by Myrtle Reservoir Park, next to the one it would replace. It’s part of the Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network (PSERN), described to us at the time as a “critical upgrade” of an existing countywide network used by public-safety responders, authorized by voters in 2015. The West Seattle tower project time frame was described then as “six to nine months” of construction, followed by removal of the old tower.

Last week, a City Council vote approving the “interlocal cooperation agreement” for PSERN reminded us that it was time to follow up on the West Seattle tower’s status, since eleven months have now passed. Here’s what we found out, via King County Information Technology:

*COVID-19 has affected everyone’s work on/at this site, especially supply chains and construction services. City of Seattle and King County Metro also have work at this site, including needing to move their antennas and other emergency radio equipment to the new tower in coordination with vendors and in compliance with Federal Communications Commission licensing processes. This equipment must be removed by these agencies before PSERN can dismantle the original tower and complete work at the site. The PSERN Project (Project) does not have the legal authority to force those agencies to move to the new tower, but all agencies are coordinating their efforts.

*Work on the West Seattle tower location began in late summer 2019 and the main construction was finished in April 2020. However, work continues with some service trucks and a crane in the area to move equipment from the old tower to the new PSERN tower. This duration of this work has lengthened and will likely last through April 2021. Construction work is expected to be intermittent throughout this time.

*The PSERN project team has been actively working with the City of Seattle and King County Metro to solidify the schedule. Once those other agencies have completed their work, the project team can dismantle the old West Seattle tower. That should take about a month.

*Every effort is being made to remove the original West Seattle tower as quickly as possible, so that transition to the upgraded emergency radio system can continue on schedule. The project team says they greatly appreciate the patience of neighbors during these challenging times while collaboration between multiple parties and transition preparations continues.

The cost of this part of the ~$281 million PSERN project was cited last year as about $800,000. Meantime, we’re told site neighbors should receive an update via postal mail sometime this month.

1 Reply to "FOLLOWUP: Why the old Gatewood emergency-communications tower is still up next to the new one"

  • Kyle October 2, 2020 (10:45 pm)

    Sounds like some burecratic laziness. They used a lot of words to say over 11 months they still don’t have a schedule for removal from the other agencies, and passively blamed them for their inaction. Thank you for calling them out!

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