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Works board OKs federal-aid project planning

– They say it takes money to make money. In this case, it takes spending money to get a grant.

Board of Public Works members Wednesday approved a contract with Butler, Fairman & Seufert Inc. for $67,351. The Indianapolis engineering firm will help develop five federal-aid projects, including one that will place closed-circuit television cameras along Coliseum Boulevard so officials can monitor traffic and weather conditions.

City Engineer Shan Gunawardena said the Northeast Indiana Regional Coordinating Council, the regional transportation planning authority, has made about $3 million in federal grants available, but the projects must meet federal guidelines.

With several construction projects planned for this summer, Gunawardena said, extra help is needed.

The city already has one closed-circuit camera at South Calhoun and Tillman streets, which allows officials to remotely monitor one of the first places in the city to flood.

The camera allows officials downtown to view the river gauge, whether water is on the street and how it’s affecting traffic.

Cameras along Coliseum would let officials instantly see whether there are crashes or other problems on one of the city’s busiest roads.

Other projects include:

•Install back plates for traffic signals. These plates provide a dark background to give the signals more contrast so motorists are able to see them better against a bright sky.

•Convert the remaining incandescent-bulb signals to LEDs. LED bulbs require far less maintenance and use a fraction of the electricity of traditional bulbs.

•Connect signals to the Central Traffic Control System. About 80 percent of the city’s roughly 300 traffic signals are connected to the system, which allows officials to instantly know whether there is a problem with a signal and make adjustments without sending a crew to the site. This project will connect the remaining 20 percent.

•System-wide pedestrian countdown signals. Pedestrian-crossing signals downtown already have countdown clocks that tell pedestrians how long they have left to get across the street. This project will expand the signals to other parts of the city.

Board members also approved three construction projects for this summer.

Those projects include concrete street replacement for Sandpiper Cove in Pine Valley, concrete replacement for East Pettit Avenue between Anthony Boulevard and Werling Drive, and sidewalk repairs along East Wallace Street.

Those three projects are expected to be bid this month.