Work starts on Raleigh's public safety facility to meet increased need

kcharles@newsobserver.comJuly 10, 2014 

— As Raleigh grows and emergency calls skyrocket, a new facility to handle increased public-safety demands had its official groundbreaking Thursday.

The ceremony to start work on the Critical Public Safety Facility drew city officials and the construction professionals involved in the 95,000-square-foot, $71 million building on North Raleigh Boulevard.

"The 911 call demands are always rising and we need a new modernized facility to be able to function properly and protect our interests as citizens," said Scott Cutler, vice president of Clancy & Theys Construction Co. in Raleigh.

Clancy & Theys is one of the three companies that will manage preconstruction and construction.

"The technology is always changing and the opportunity to modernize with all the best technology will make (center staff) even more responsive in doing their job," Cutler said after the ceremony. "I think we are past the point where we can retrofit the old facility and make that work."

The four-story building, a replacement for downtown facilities, will house the Emergency Operations Center, Data Center, Traffic Control Center, and the Emergency Communication Center, which includes the Raleigh-Wake 911 Call Center.

"The Emergency Operations Center is the central command and control during major weather and other emergency events," Mayor Nancy McFarlane said during the ceremony.

"The facility will be essential to communicating clear, reliable and timely information to the public in an emergency, whether that's calling the 911 for help or communicating updates during a natural disaster."

The Emergency Communication Center is a 24-hour operation and receives 911 emergency calls for much of Wake County. The Data Center will support all functions of the building as well as the city's information technology. For these reasons, the building will contain redundant back-up services.

"We have really outgrown the space we are in," McFarlane said afterward. "As this area grows, we become more responsible for many more people."

The mayor also noted that the six-acre city-owned property would meet the safety-related needs of Raleigh residents for the next 25 years.

A part of the city's many goals for the project is to make the new facility environmentally friendly, in hopes of achieving LEED Certification.

The building was designed using input garnered from workshops held last August with representatives of the city's 911, emergency operations, information technology, police and traffic-control agencies.

Planners also evaluated security threats during the design process and scored them based on probability, potential impact, vulnerability and the center's importance.

Originally the center was planned as a 17-story, $175 million building located downtown. It would have housed the police and fire department headquarters, as well as emergency management. But the project was replaced by the current center, on North Raleigh Boulevard between Westinghouse Boulevard and Brentwood Road.

The center will be funded by limited obligation bonds. It is expected to open in January 2016.

Charles: 919-829-4864; Twitter: @kareemacharles

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