Board of Directors Regular Meeting Agenda


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Meeting Date: 10/24/2018  

Receive, consider and act upon Phases Three and Four of the Communication Towers project (C-2016-0382);
$1,275,509.80 from the 2018 Capital Budget
The proposed communication towers project is essential to the Fire Department’s provision of emergency public safety services. It will provide a reliable microvave IP network for each fire station that serves as a critical communications link for station alerting and voice and data traffic that is not impacted by construction (cutting of cable) or power outages.  The communication towers are not intended for commercial use; their purpose is to provide emergency services to Township residents and visitors. The proposed microwave network could also be expanded in an incorporation scenario for PSAP services, police and possibly public works.
The alternative to communication towers in order to provide comparable visual, audio and data services is to install fiber optic to each of the stations and pay a monthly service fee for the service. However, fiber optic cable is expected to be less reliable due to cable cuts (due to construction) and power outages. A rough estimate of fiber optic installation is $600,000+ with a monthly service charge starting at $4,800 per month ($57,600 annual) and projected annual increases. This would be a stop gap measure and would not meet the public safety needs on a long-term basis.

FirstNet has also been mentioned as an alternative to the communication towers project.  FirstNet is a wireless broadband LTE network which provides first responders with broadband LTE capabilities to their mobile devices (smartphones, tablets etc) and apparatus (fire/police/EMS-mobile data computers). It would not be able provide a network for the station alerting system and the daily network needs at each fire station as it is designed for mobile devices.  FirstNet is also limited by the cellular coverage in the area.

Current Communications System in Use
The Woodlands Fire Department currently utilizes a radio system for public safety communicaitons.  It consists of three radio systems: the TxWarn System (800 mhz) utilized by multiple state and local agencies; the MCHD P25 (800mhz) utlized by MCHD and Conroe Fire Department; and the VHF Alerting System.  All three systems have gone down from time to time, and sometimes at the same time as they are all interconnected. 

When the Fire Department receives a call to respond to an incident Dispatch will send an alert to the appropriate station alerting system via the Township data network.  The station alerting system will then provide visual and audio alerts as well as the relevant incident data.  The station alerting system will also automatically provide confirmation to Dispatch that the station has received the alert notification. The current land based data lines are prone to outages due to construction cuts. The communication towers will not be effected by construction cuts resulting in a more reliable network which does not rely on land lines.

In addition,  the stations receive a two-tone alert through the VHF Radio Alerting system. This radio-based alerting system is slower than the primary data-based alerting system that would be more reliable with the communication towers, as the VHF alerting system provides verbal information which may take 20-60 seconds depending on the size and nature of the call. Also, the VHF alerting system does not have a means of determining whether the station received the radio alert unless the responding units provide confirmation to Dispatch. Finally, the VHF system cannot provide the data and visual alerts (display boards, lighting control) offered by a data-based system.

The proposed microwave system will not replace the radio systems but will enhance public safety communications by providing reliable network services for an efficient station alerting system and to facilitate voice and data traffic.  

Township Action to Date and Summary of Project Phases
In 2017, the Board awarded the bid to design and construct communication towers for The Woodlands Fire Department to All Pro Consulting Group (C-2016-0382). The project was to build seven towers over a four year process. During the 2018 Budget process, the Board approved the acceleration of the project funding to construct all seven towers in 2018. The total budget for the project is $1,350,000.

In January 2018, the Board approved Phases 1 and 2 of the project, which were the initial engineering steps required before the physical construction of the towers. It was also determined that once Phases 1 and 2 were completed, All Pro would solicit bids for the physical construction of the towers and the information would be presented to the Board for approval to proceed with Phases 3 and 4 of the project.

Phase 3 Construction: includes the construction of the towers, microwave installation and path alignments.
Phase 3 can take up to 45 days per site. Depending on the general contractor, the drilling process can occur almost consecutively. It takes twenty-eight days for the concrete foundation to cure.

Phase 4 Material Testing & Inspections: includes, but is not limited to, concrete break tests, steel galvanization certificates, test well and grounding certificates, and trench inspections. If towers are purchased directly from a manufacturer, testing documents relative to their product should be supplied by the manufacturer. 

As-Built Site Walk: As-built site walks are to be completed after construction. The previously submitted construction drawings will be taken to the site and “redlined” for any field changes that occurred. These redlines will be made by the project manager or engineer who helped produce the final design. 

As-Built Construction Drawings: Once the as-built site walks are completed, the data will be used to revise the final construction drawings for the as-built condition.  The will ensure the end product is thoroughly scrutinized by all parites involved.  The goal of this step is to provide the Township with a final accurate project that can referenced for future electrical, structural, grounding, topography and other needs.   

All Pro designed a redundant 11Ghzmicrowave network utilizing Ceragon IP-20C Microwave radios providing up to 300Mbps between all fire stations.

The table below reflects the tower heights. Attachment A provides a photo simulation of the towers.
Fire Station  Tower Height
Station 2 130'
Station 3 115'
Station 4 140'
Station 5 150'
Station 6 150'
Station 7 135'
Station 8 120'

All Pro solicited and received several quotes for the tower manufacturing, tower erection and microwave equipment and installation. 

I. Manufacturer (Tower Manufacturing Cost)
Company Lead Time Overall Project Cost
TransAmerican Power Poles Inc 7 weeks $179,845.00
Nello 8-10 weeks $259,489.81
CHM Industries 7-9 weeks $268,997.00
Valmont 7-9 weeks $275,979.00
*Material cost does not include any taxes or duties. All towers are manufactured in the US except for TransAmerican. Final price will be provided at the October 24th Board meeting.

TransAmerican Power Poles Inc:
QMC Telecom
Crown Castle
Skyway Towers
American Tower
Parallel Infrastructure

American Tower
Black & Veatch
Crown Castle
Vertical Bridge Holdings

CHM Industries:
Vermont Electric Power Company
Lower Colorado River Authority
People's Electric Cooperative
Southwestern Power Administration
Garland Power and Light

Motorola Solutions
Industrial Communications
Capital Telecom
Quality Tower

II.General Contractor (Tower Erection Cost) *Final price will be provided at the October 24th Board meeting.

Fire Station 2
Company Total Including Performance/Pay Bond
Vertical Limit $92,015.30
Statewide $75,396.99
AWS $61,057.50

Fire Station 3
Company Total Including Performance/Pay Bond
Vertical Limit $90,526.29
Statewide $81,261.05
AWS $56,679.00

Fire Station 4
Company Total Including Performance/Pay Bond
Vertical Limit $92,094.79
Statewide $75,156.44
AWS $59,367.00

Fire Station 5
Company Total Including Performance/Pay Bond
Vertical Limit $92,924.45
Statewide $89,902.21
AWS $61,897.50

Fire Station 6
Company Total Including Performance/Pay Bond
Vertical Limit $97,809.74
Statewide $89,902.21
AWS $57,120.00

Fire Station 7
Company Total Including Performance/Pay Bond
Vertical Limit $92,880.52
Statewide $73,717.40
AWS $58,275.00

Fire Station 8
Company Total Including Performance/Pay Bond
Vertical Limit $90,445.20
Statewide $62,028.75
AWS $58,275.00

Tower Erection Cost Summary
Company Overall Tower Erection Cost
Vertical Limit $648,706.29
Statewide $547,365.04
AWS $412,671.00

Vertical Limit
Eco Site II
Verizon Wireless

Covenant Development
Reds Transportation
DMC Enterprises
Emerald Design

Branch Communications
Vertical Bridge
Vall Technologies
Powder River
III. Microwave Equipment Cost-Fujitsu Network Communications
Description Equipment Cost
Eight links of Ceragon IP-20C microwave radios, 300M
capacity per carrier, adaptive coding modulation,
antennas per design, and network management
application server
Spare Microwave radio at each site $8,054
Total $252,685

Microwave Installation Cost-Fujitsu Network Communications
Description  Project Price
Installation & Alignment of one radio link
- Materials Logistics and Staging at customer facility
- Installation of all Hardware and System Software
- Install two antennas and microwave radios at heights as designated by
- Align the link for optimal performance
- Run new data and power cabling from the radio down tower along
existing cable run to designated demarcation location
- Attach to existing grounding
- Initial Radio Configuration of DCN parameters to enable communication to radio through customer network; BER testing.  RFC 2544-type testing may be included for an additional charge.
- As Built Documentation and Close Out Package
Miscellaneous installation materials (e.g. antenna mounts, cables, clips,
grounds, UPS, etc. Validated during site survey.
Total $269,958

Microwave Equipment, Installation Project Total: $522,643 ($252,685 + $269,958)

IV. All Pro Project Management
Description Project Cost
Project Management Phase 3 and 4 10% Overall Construction Cost
Site Visits (3 site visits per site. 1 for a pre-con walk,
1 for a mid-point construction inspection, and 1 for a
punch walk)
Total Management Fees $109,550.80
Phase 4 Close Out Documents $50,800.00

V. Overall Phase 3 and 4 Project Cost (assuming lowest bidder is selected)
Trans America Power Poles $179,845.00
AWS $412,671.00
Microwave Equipment $252,685.00
Microwave Installation $269,958.00
All Pro Project Management Fees $109,550.80
Phase 4 Close Out Documents $50,800.00
Phase 3 and 4 Total  $1,275,509.80
Final price will be provided at the October 24th Board meeting.

To date, $264,744.40 of the total project budget of $1,350,000 has been expensed, leaving a project balance of $1,085,255.60.  Based on the proposed costs outlined in the chart above, there is a budget shortfall of $190,254.20 to fund the entire project.  Staff proposes using favorable variances from several IT and Fire Department capital projects to cover the budget shortfall.

Staff sent affected neighbor letters to properties located within 300 feet of the proposed construction sites. No responses were received.

Staff recommends that Trans American Power Poles Inc. be selected as the manufacturer and that Advanced Wireless Solutions be selected as the tower erector.
Award the bids to Trans American Power Poles Inc. as the tower manufacturer and Advanced Wireless Solutions as the tower erector;  and Fujitsu Network Communications for microwave equipment and installation; authorize the President/General Manager to proceed with Phase III and IV with All Pro Consulting Group and execute the agreements and purchases.
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