By Nathalie Hardy • Columnist • 

County gets briefing on radio project

He said the Oregon Department of Transportation is now managing the project, which has been sharply scaled back in both scope and cost. After being re-engineered and assigned a new schedule and budget, it is projected to cost $108.5 million, compared to an original $209.4 million according to an ODOT press release.

Paolo said the new version promises more potential advantages and fewer possible disadvantages for the county.

The aim is to create an integrated statewide emergency communications network that ODOT, the Oregon State Police, the Oregon Department of Corrections and the Oregon Department of Forestry can seamlessly share with local police and fire agencies.

The plan calls for development of a trunked, two-way radio system in a horseshoe that encompassing the Willamette Valley, Columbia River Gorge and Highway 22 corridor from Salem to Bend. According to ODOT, trunking will improve channel access and efficiency in these three high-traffic areas.

The current analog microwave system will be upgraded to digital, Paolo said. He said the plan includes two sites Yamhill County’s radio system relies on, High Heaven and Doane Creek, in addition to Polk County’s heavily subscribed Eagle Creek.

Paolo expressed some concerns about the sharing of tower sites.

“From my perspective, I’d say let’s talk about it,” he told the commissioners. “There are a lot of details that would need to be worked out.”

However, he said, “The concept is good. If you look at what we’ve done over the last five years, there’s been a huge benefit to us sharing with other counties.”

Because OWIN had a terrible track record, “I say we learn from history and proceed with caution,” he continued. “I can say that since ODOT has taken the project over, it has a much better feel to it,” he told commissioners.

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