Public Safety meeting highlights safety improvement projects

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, April 3, 2024

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During the Suffolk Public Safety Committee meeting on Wednesday, March 27, the committee discussed current and upcoming projects utilizing funds generated from the traffic enforcement camera program. 

During his presentation, Suffolk Financial Director Charles Meek provided numbers through the end of February, noting the total anticipated revenue being $15,832,200, with 10,908,984 collected. The revenue outstanding listed was $4,923,216. 

“Looking at the expenditures or allocations, the city has paid the vendor Altumint 2.8 million [2,853,468] for operations of equipment,” Meek said. “We had two project allocations, one for the crosswalks at Kings Fork High School and Middle School and for the replacement of the flashers at citywide schools for $215,000. So that leaves our remaining balance as of the end of February of unallocated funds that are actually in hand as far as what’s been paid of $7,840,516.”

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During his presentation, Director of Public Works Robert E. Lewis detailed a list of current projects the department is working on and additional projects in the planning stages. On current projects, Lewis said that Nansemond Suffolk Academy’s school flashers were upgraded between March 4 and 9, as were a few flashers at Suffolk Public Schools. Likewise, Lewis noted that Public Works will continue flasher repairs for SPS during the division’s spring break holiday between April 1 and 5.

“So when the schools come back on eclipse day, hopefully, we’ll have systems that are working perfectly, and that has a couple of benefits. …We want to make sure these systems are working properly in notifying the citizens, but one of the challenges we always have to get in court, is [that] someone challenges it. ‘I don’t think the light was operating that day,’” Lewis said. “This new system will allow us to generate a report showing that the light was or was not operating at any specific time. So that’s going to aid us, I think tremendously on those few appeals we get and be a good thing.”

Along with discussing work on the crosswalk for Kings Fork High School and Middle School with work planning to occur during summer break, Lewis detailed additional projects currently in discussion. Lewis detailed talking with SPS administration on adding sidewalks to Nansemond River High School, John Yeates Middle School, Booker T. Washington Elementary School and Hillpoint Elementary School, with $125,000 covering the construction. Along with a $12,000 guardrail for Mill Street, Lewis detailed a $250,000 program called Trainfo to help address train traffic issues.

“So we [ran] across this company that will enable us to put some sensors out there off the railroad properties for the railroad that will allow us to monitor the crossings in the city. From that window, if the train’s there, we can also approximate speeds,” Lewis said. 

Lewis detailed that information on traffic operations would be shared with school bus and 911 dispatch centers and the public via the WAZE phone app. Other projects discussed included citywide LED streetlight upgrades for $1.5 million and an O’Kelly Dr. turn lane at South Quay for $1.55 million, among others. The total for all additional projects totaled $4,200,000, with projects that are ready to proceed at $720,000.